The shocking development that Boston Celtics big man Al Horford would miss Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat prompted a flurry of questions and an increase in speculation.
After Horford was ruled out of the opener three hours before tipoff, many wondered whether he’d miss the second game in Miami, as well.
Despite Celtics head coach Ime Udoka not offering a timeline for a possible return, reports painted the picture rather quickly. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported how Boston was preparing for “the likely scenario” they would be without Horford in Game 2.
We got another sense of the same Wednesday morning with the report from Yahoo Sports’ NBA reporter Chris Haynes.
“The Boston Celtics do not anticipate Al Horford being cleared from health and safety protocols prior to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday,” Haynes wrote Wednesday, citing sources. “There is a minuscule path in which the veteran big man could fulfill the necessary steps for clearance, but sources maintain it’s highly unlikely.”
Haynes did indicate, though, that Celtics guard Marcus Smart was on an upward trajectory while eyeing a Game 2 return.
Udoka was scheduled to speak with the media Wednesday morning, and likely would have been asked for an update on Horford, but was unavailable due to a non-COVID illness.
Horford’s absence in Game 1 certainly was felt by the Celtics as the Green put together a historically bad third quarter which helped Miami overcome its own first-half struggles and earn a victory. The Celtics will return to Miami, a four-point betting favorite, with Game 2 scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.