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Enes Kanter (left knee) cleared to return tonight against Dallas

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The Celtics with the league’s best record and down one All-Star wing add another healthy body to the mix.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics just lost Gordon Hayward to a left hand fracture, but there’s good news in the left appendage department for Boston. Enes Kanter, who’s missed all but the first game of the season due to a left knee contusion, will make his return tonight against the 6-3 Dallas Mavericks.

Kanter started the first game against the Philadelphia 76ers, posting 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Although he tipped off the first game, all indications coming out of camp were that he’s slated to play a lot of minutes with the second unit. Most teams don’t employ Joel Embiid, so while we never know, it appears likely that the Celtics will bring Kanter off the bench for the foreseeable future.

Losing Gordon Hayward, the Celtics will have to rely on many unproven talents in his stead. Javonte Green rose to the occasion in the second half against Boston, and Carsen Edwards as well as Brad Wanamaker will certainly get minutes depending on what the matchup calls for. Grant Williams has demonstrated his intelligence on both ends, so his playing time will only grow as the season progresses. Kanter adds experience and rebounding to the mix.

Although there are plenty of concerns of how Kanter will impact the defensive end – where the Celtics have thrived with the #5 defensive rating despite being undermanned and undersized at the center spot – he will certainly help with the rebounding. If he’s not starting and doesn’t take away shots from Boston’s four best players, Kanter has the opportunity to be a complementary piece in the second unit against other benches at times when Boston will need points on the board.

The Dallas Mavericks have been an interesting surprise after adding Kristaps Porzingis to their lottery team from last year, and they’ve entrenched themselves in the playoff picture in the early going. They take their 6-3 record to Boston where the current league’s best – the 7-1 Celtics – await. The game tips off tonight at 7:30 PM EST on NBATV.