The Boston Celtics have quite a lengthy injury report heading into Wednesday’s preseason matchup with the Orlando Magic.
Al Horford on Tuesday became the sixth player to be ruled out for the game when he tested positive for COVID-19. Jaylen Brown also is out due to health and safety protocols, having returned a positive test for the virus Friday.
But four other players will miss the contest, though it thankfully is due to rest rather than injury. Josh Richardson, Dennis Schröder, Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum are all unavailable, as head coach Ime Udoka opted to rest the stars.
Schröder will miss his second straight game, as he sat out Friday with a knee contusion.
With pretty much every bonafide starter sidelined for this one, it certainly will be an interesting game — and perhaps exactly what head coach Ime Udoka has been waiting for. Udoka said he wanted to vary his lineups throughout the preseason in order to figure out the best rotation for the regular season, when he wants to keep a sense of consistency in the starting lineup.
“We’ll see where we get in the game, it’s hard to play 12 guys obviously every night and, you know, 9-10 is a more manageable number,” he said Oct. 6. “And so that’s where the competition lies and how they’ll play in the games and what we’ll see in the practice.”
We’ve already published our projections for a 10-man rotation, but Wednesday’s game now will be an opportunity for players to earn their way into a role — and we’re now zeroing in on two younger players who will have eyes on them Wednesday.
Romeo Langford got a chance Friday against the Toronto Raptors with Brown out. Starting at guard, he logged 13 points with a pair of rebounds in 19 minutes. He’s certainly one to keep an eye on in this next matchup, considering he’s been buried even deeper on the depth chart since the offseason acquisition of Richardson.
Aaron Nesmith also is waiting for his breakout moment, having logged 15 minutes in both of Boston’s preseason games thus far. That’s on par with what he saw through 46 games in his rookie season, logging 4.7 points and 2.8 boards. He looked strong in the preseason opener against the Magic, when he scored 10 points, but wasn’t as productive against the Raptors, scoring five.
While it’s unclear exactly what the game plan is in this preseason rematch against Orlando, it should be a big opportunity for the younger players on the Celtics bench.
The Celtics and Magic tip off Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.