The Boston Celtics were dealt a big blow prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals with not only Marcus Smart being unavailable to play, but Al Horford being ruled out for the contest as well.
Horford landed in health and safety protocols on Tuesday, and Celtics coach Ime Udoka told reporters during his pregame press conference that he found out about Horford’s status just over three hours prior to tipoff.
“As always we don’t comment on the status of our guys,” Udoka said. “He’s feeling fine and go from there. Wait to see results and future tests.”
Udoka wouldn’t confirm if Horford tested positive for COVID-19. This is the third time this season Horford has wound up in health and safety protocols, with the last time coming back in December.
While Horford is out for the opening game of the series against the Miami Heat, Udoka said Horford won’t be immediately ruled out for Game 2 on Thursday as the Celtics big man has to pass a certain number of tests to get back on the court.
“It’s unsure. That’s more of a medical question, honestly,” Udoka said on Horford’s availability moving forward. “But there are different protocols and tests that have to be passed, and we’ll know more going forward. But it’s not a definite that he’s out for two games.”
Udoka added: “Regarding Al, it is testing, a certain number has to be passed. Don’t know if it’s specific days, but a specific number of tests have to be passed.”
Horford was at Boston’s shootaround this morning and a picture circulated online following the announcement of his absence of Horford at the center of a team huddle.
Udoka didn’t provide much clarity if any other members of the Celtics were considered close contacts due to that.
“I’m honestly unsure about that as of now,” Udoka said.
With both Smart and Horford out, Udoka is opting to insert Derrick White and Grant Williams into the starting lineup in their place.
Udoka also added that Robert Williams will be a full-go and not be on a minutes restriction after missing the final four games of Boston’s series against the Milwaukee Bucks.