Latest Updates on Horford, Smart Ahead of Game 2

After being sidelined for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, both Marcus Smart and Al Horford are preparing to return for Game 2 Thursday night in Miami.

Smart missed the series opener with a mid-foot sprain and Horford was a late scratch after entering the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols. However, as of Thursday afternoon, the team had listed Smart as “probable” and Horford as “available” on its official Game 2 injury report.

Smart was back at shootaround Thursday looking like himself, according to teammate Grant Williams.

“He looked good,” said Williams, who filled Horford’s starting spot in Game 1. “Smart is competitive as heck, so I always expect him, whether he’s injured or hurt or anything, to make an attempt, so we’ll see what happens.”

The Celtics missed Smart’s presence dearly in Game 1. Jimmy Butler had a field day not having to face the Defensive Player of the Year, as the Heat wing dropped 41 points and took 18 trips to the free-throw line while leading his team to a 118-107 win.

Head coach Ime Udoka seems confident that Smart will be back to help slow down Butler in Game 2. He said the starting point guard just needs to check off a few more boxes to be cleared to suit up.

“When he [goes through warmups] before the game, we’ll know from there,” said Udoka. “But he looked better in shootaround today and overall, we expect him to play.”

Horford, meanwhile, will certainly play Thursday night. He was initially listed as “doubtful” for Game 2 in the injury report that came out Wednesday. His status was then labeled as “questionable” at 12:58 p.m. Thursday before finally being upgraded to "available" at 2:29 p.m."

“He’s feeling fine, he's feeling okay. It's something that was unexpected,” Udoka said of Horford’s absence in Game 1. “He's feeling fine since that day.”

Having one or both of those guys back for Game 2 would be a massive boost, especially since Boston will be dealing with another key absence. Reserve guard Derrick White had to rush home Thursday morning for the birth of his first child. Fortunately for the Celtics, they’re used to dealing with the unexpected, so they are confident that they'll be able to cope with White’s absence just fine.

“We support our guys and always want them to be there and in those situations with their family,” said Udoka. “We’ve had guys out quite a bit this year, in this postseason, and had to make do. And so, Marcus being out last game, we beat Milwaukee without Marcus one game and three games without Rob (Williams). So kind of mixing and matching early in the season, going through COVID situations and injuries. You possibly get two back tonight and you lose one tonight. It is what it is, and you have to keep playing.”

Regardless of who’s in and who’s out tonight, the Celtics have proven throughout the season that they can overcome unexpected absences, and that shouldn’t change in the playoffs.

“You can’t control everything,” said Williams. “You can’t control officiating, you can’t control exactly what players are going to be out there, but what you can control is the heat and energy that you bring, but also the competitiveness and spirit of a team. So we just have to come out there, stick together and be ourselves.”

Hopefully, with a couple of important players back in the rotation.

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