Udoka Gives Injury Updates on Pritchard, Schroder
Payton Pritchard and Dennis Schroder are the only two Celtics players who have missed time due to injuries this preseason, but fortunately, they should both be back with plenty of time to spare before Wednesday night’s season-opening matchup at Madison Square Garden.
Pritchard suffered a broken nose when he was inadvertently struck by Ignas Brazdeikis’ hand with 1:28 remaining in the second quarter of Wednesday’s 103-102 loss to the Orlando Magic. He left the game immediately, boarded a flight home to Boston, where he met with medical personnel who confirmed the diagnosis.
Of course, that means Pritchard will miss Friday night’s preseason finale against the Miami Heat. However, he should be back in no time, according to head coach Ime Udoka.
“He can get back going pretty quickly with non-contact since it’s a pain tolerance thing,” Udoka said following Friday morning’s shootaround at FTX Arena. “Once we have our last few practices before the New York game, we’re hoping he’s good to go there.”
However, Pritchard will be taking on a different appearance when he returns. Udoka says that the point guard will have to wear a protective mask over his face during on-court activities, at least for the time being.
Schroder, meanwhile, has already returned to on-court activities after missing the last two games with a left knee contusion. The first-year Celtics point guard and nine-year NBA veteran took a fall during practice last week, which sidelined him for Saturday night’s game against Toronto. He then, along with the rest of Boston’s core players, rested during Wednesday night’s game in Orlando and is now ready to go Friday night in Miami.
“Dennis is fine,” Udoka confirmed. “It was just some soreness. He took the bump on the fall, so we held him out of one game and a practice. He's been working out, getting his individual work in, got a lot of treatment in, and he's good to go.”
With both Pritchard out and Marcus Smart out due to a one-game, internal suspension, Schroder will get the start at point guard against the Heat.
Aside from Pritchard, the only players who remain on Boston’s “Injury Report” are Jaylen Brown and Al Horford, who are both in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. Brown will almost certainly be back in time for the regular-season opener, and Horford could possibly return by then as well.
In the meantime, the team is doing everything in its power to keep the virus out of the locker room so that it doesn’t suffer a high volume of COVID-related absences like it did last season.
“Just being smart, that's the main thing,” Udoka said of the team’s approach. “We have mandates in place and rules for guys in the NBA and just watching your surroundings, being careful. We're heavily protected in (our practice) facility, but we are strict about keeping our masks on in times when we are off the court, not congregating with too many people. We're smart with the protocols and got our mandates in place, but we just have to be extra cautious with how it's impacted us in the last year or so, and with the two guys who are out right now, it's already hit us early. Just be smart, take care of yourself, watch your surroundings, and follow the mandates.”