At shootaround before the season opener, Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka announced that Jaylen Brown has been cleared to play and will start the season opener against the New York Knicks.
Ime Udoka says Jaylen Brown will play tonight for the Boston Celtics in the season opener at the New York Knicks.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) October 20, 2021
Brown has been in isolation since testing positive for COVID earlier this month and missed the majority of the Celtics preseason games as a result. Brown's availability for the Knicks game has been a topic of discussion in recent days, and even last night, the Celtics had him listed as questionable.
According to Udoka, Brown's fitness looks "impressively fine considering he's' only just got out of quarantine." A minutes restriction will likely be in place while Brown works his way back to full game fitness, especially considering he missed the end of last season due to a ligament injury in his wrist.
Grant Williams has also been named as a starter for the Knicks game after impressing during the preseason. Williams participated in each of the Celtics' four preseason games and looked largely improved on both ends of the floor.
However, it is worth noting that Udoka benched Williams during the loss to the Miami Heat due to Williams’ agitation towards the referees - something Udoka has admitted is a "pet peeve" of his.
Finally, Al Horford will not be playing against the Knicks due to not clearing Health and Safety protocols after also contracting COVID earlier this month. Horford played an impressive role when healthy this preseason and staked his claim for a starting spot once he's' cleared to play.
Without directly saying it, Ime Udoka hinted that Al Horford will be a part of the starting lineup when he returns. Udoka said "It's Grant tonight. We'll mix and match a little bit due to matchups while Al is out."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) October 20, 2021
Horford rejoined the Boston Celtics during the off-season as part of the trade that saw Kemba Walker head towards the Oklahoma City Thunder before being bought out and signed by the Knicks.
The Celtics will face off against their former back-court pairing of Walker and Evan Fournier, along with the rest of the Knicks roster, Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 PM Eastern Time.