Coming off a setback against the Monstars (sorry, Orlando Magic) – one that abruptly curbed their nine-game winning streak – the shorthanded Celtics (35-13) will face the Miami Heat (26-22) on the road Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
This is a tough game for several reasons. For starters, it’s the second half of a back-to-back. That’s difficult regardless, but it’s especially tricky when the injury report is changing almost daily (sometimes hourly).
Boston will be without catalysts Malcolm Brogdon (personal reasons), Jaylen Brown (right adductor injury management), Al Horford (low back stiffness) and Marcus Smart (right ankle sprain) Tuesday.
#NEBHInjuryReport vs. Miami:
Malcolm Brogdon (personal reasons) – OUT
Jaylen Brown (right adductor injury management) – OUT
Danilo Gallinari (left knee ACL repair) – OUT
Al Horford (low back stiffness) – OUT
Marcus Smart (right ankle sprain) – OUT
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 24, 2023
The Celtics are also up against an opponent that’s starting to return to form.
This Miami team isn’t currently quite as potent as the group that took the Celtics to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, but it’s much more potent than the one that started the season 12-15.
“We can’t ever settle and take a night off. That’s not who we are.”
Grant Williams talks about the Celtics ability to battle back in close games pic.twitter.com/5CWODXQu9J
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 22, 2023
The Heat have won five of seven and are a season-high four games above .500. They’re starting to resemble the team they were last year, which isn’t necessarily ideal timing for a shorthanded Celtics squad.
This is the fourth and final regular season meeting – Boston has taken two of three – and it’s quite possible they’ll meet again in the playoffs. First, here’s a look at Tuesday’s matchup.
Who will rise to the challenge with several players out?
Give the Magic plenty of credit – they won that game, the Celtics didn’t lose it – but it would have likely unfolded differently with a full Celtics roster.
Tuesday’s injury report is even more bleak. The players listed (Smart, Brogdon, Brown, Danilo Gallinari and Al Horford) would make a great lineup.
Who starts the game? Who finishes it? How many minutes does Sam Hauser play? Does Mfiondu Kabengele get even more run? How about JD Davison?
Payton Pritchard played 31 against Orlando. Will he have to do so again? It’s safe to…