Ime Udoka was hoping to use Friday night’s final preseason game as a means of testing out some lineups.
Instead, the Boston Celtics coach will have yet another opportunity to evaluate those on the cusp of making the roster when they take on the Miami Heat on Friday evening.
The Celtics have had a dramatic training camp thus far, with Jaylen Brown and Al Horford in the NBA’s health and safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19 and Payton Pritchard breaking his nose. And just to get even more extra, they imposed a one-game suspension on Marcus Smart for violating a team rule — which ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports was instigated by the guard missing the team flight.
Either way, there’s a general consensus of who will make the Celtics’ 15-man roster and even crack the rotation. They also have one two-way contract up for grabs. Those players are as followed:
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Dennis Schröder, Payton Pritchard, Juancho Hernangomez, Enes Kanter, Aaron Nesmith, Grant Williams, Romeo Langford
Unless the Celtics can get out of having signed Hauser to a two-way deal with them and the Maine Celtics, there are six players fighting their place.
Ryan Arcidiacono, Bruno Fernando, Garrison Mathews, Juwan Morgan, Jabari Parker, Theo Pinson
Based on what we’ve seen in the preseason, and how Udoka praised Parker after their most recent preseason game against the Orlando Magic, you can pencil Jabari Parker in to make this team.
That makes things difficult between Fernando, Pinson and Mathews, who all make a case. Mathews is a certified shooter, and a good option for the second two-way deal over Pinson. Make no mistake — Pinson absolutely is an NBA player, but he’s honestly too good for that and can probably find a better deal elsewhere.
In addition to being too good to keep in Maine most of the time, he’s probably better than Fernando, too. But when it comes down to fit, Pinson doesn’t fill a big enough need for the Celtics compared to Fernando who could be useful when Kanter is out or in foul trouble.
Perhaps another player will have a breakout performance, but between these four players on the cusp, Friday is a very important night.
The Celtics and Heat tip off at 6:30 p.m. ET from FTX Arena. After that, cuts must be named before these games start counting.