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NBA insider says Al Horford likely won’t return to the Celtics lineup until Game 3

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NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Boston is prepared to play Game 2 without veteran center Al Horford. 

There were a few reasons the Boston Celtics lost to the Miami Heat in Game 1: Celtics coach Ime Udoka blamed the Jays, Celts fans blamed Jaylen Brown’s missed free throws, and Jimmy Butler was, in a word, magnificent.

But there’s another reason that Udoka highlighted when addressing the team’s misfortune: they were playing without Al Horford and Marcus Smart, and it made a significant difference.

That’s what makes the Horford update so disheartening for Boston fans: NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that Horford is expected to remain out until at least Game 3.

Boston is prepared for the likely scenario of Al Horford remaining in the league’s Health and Safety Protocols through Game 2 on Thursday, sources said. https://t.co/QsWWjKDRcq

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 17, 2022

Without Horford, Robert Williams stepped in — but he may be stepping out in Game 2 as well after colliding with Bam Adebayo. Udoka reported that Williams was experiencing calf cramps after Game 1, which doesn’t bode well for Boston early in the Eastern Conference Finals series.

Meanwhile, Horford remains out due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

Celtics center Al Harford expected to miss Game 2 against Miami Heat

The good news is that Boston’s other major veteran absence may be rectified in Game 2, as Marcus Smart is expected to return to the lineup.

The #Celtics have listed Marcus Smart as probable for Game 2.

Al Horford is doubtful, which is actually good. That means there’s a chance of him testing out of COVID protocols to play.

— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) May 18, 2022

However, Horford remains on the health and safety protocol list, although it hasn’t been confirmed yet that he contracted COVID-19. WBZ NewsRadio reporter Adam Kaufman indicated that only Horford is currently out, which is good news for the rest of the team.

Barstool founder Dave Portnoy expressed confusion and frustration with Horford’s status since the NBA and other professional sports leagues continue to be vigilant about the spread of COVID-19, hence the continued protocol practice.

Fortunately, NBA teams are allowed up to seven games to prove their potential rather than a singular one-and-done playoff opportunity. The Celtics have plenty of time to turn it around, even if they open the series with two losses. But of course, getting early wins puts them in a better position to win the series later on — so every game played without Horford matters.