Pregame Post-Ups: Injury-Plagued C’s Will Rely on Youth vs. Hawks

Friday, Feb. 2- Hawks at Celtics

Pregame – Injury-Plagued C’s Will Rely on Youth vs. Hawks

BOSTON – With injury woes continuing to pile up, the Boston Celtics will be without five key players Friday night when they host the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden.

Kyrie Irving will miss his second consecutive game with a right quad contusion, but is feeling “a little bit better,” according to coach Brad Stevens, and is still considered “day-to-day.”

Marcus Morris will be sidelined due to what the team is calling a “bruised left hip,” after falling hard on his rear during the third quarter of Wednesday’s game against the New York Knicks.

“I joke that his butt is better, but we’re not playing him because he wore that (Philadelphia Eagles) jersey the other night when he was being interviewed (in the locker room),” said Stevens. “But he feels better than we thought he would, but he’s still going to be out at least for the foreseeable future, so a couple of days.”

Shane Larkin will miss his third straight game because of a sore right knee, which Brad Stevens says has not progressed much.

“Shane continues to struggle with his knee,” said the coach. “We thought he’d give it a go as we went through (our afternoon walkthrough) today and he wasn’t able to do that.”

The status of Marcus Smart, who lacerated his right hand on Jan. 24, has also not improved. It was originally believed that Smart would be sidelined for two weeks, but he’ll likely miss at least 10 to 14 more days, according to his coach.

“He went back for another check-up (yesterday) and he continues to be a little bit out,” said Stevens. “We’re probably looking more at 10 days to two weeks from now. So whether that means right before the All-Star break or not, that’s more of our timeline now.”

And, of course, Gordon Hayward remains out as he continues to rehab his dislocated left ankle and broken left tibia.

That leaves 10 active players on the Celtics’ roster, six of whom are rookies. The abundance of youth and lack of experience is not ideal, but Stevens sees positive in the situation and is embracing the challenge that it brings.

“It’s a blast for [the rookies],” said Stevens. “It’s great for them to get opportunities. We talked about it at the start of the year that we’re not going to lean on (our youth) as an excuse. We’re just gonna hopefully have everybody get ready for their chance, and when their chance comes, hopefully they maximize it.”

They'll have to do so in order to hold the fort down while their veteran teammates continue to recover from their various injuries.

- Taylor Snow