The Boston Celtics are closer to whole for the Eastern Conference finals.
Al Horford’s stay in the NBA’s health and safety protocols ended Thursday, a few hours before tipoff of Game 2 of the series against the Miami Heat. And Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart’s mid-foot sprain improved enough to compel the Celtics to put him back in the lineup.
Horford missed Game 1 because of those protocols, related to the coronavirus, and Smart also missed the series opener because of the foot injury. But Smart went through a shootaround practice Thursday morning, and since there was no setback he was deemed good to go.
“Happy to have two of our starting five back,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said, adding that both are “full go.”
The Celtics never released specifics of Horford’s situation, but given that he was in the protocols and required additional testing, his absence Tuesday almost certainly stemmed from a test result. If he actually did test positive — and the Celtics, per team policy, never said that was the case — Horford would have needed to have returned two negative PCR tests sampled at least 24 hours apart in order to escape the protocols as quickly as he did.