The Boston Celtics are finally — FINALLY — whole again. After limping through the end of last season, this year’s preseason and training camp, and in Wednesday’s opening night loss in New York, the team will finally have all hands on deck tonight against the visiting Toronto Raptors.
According to head coach Ime Udoka, Al Horford will return from a ten-day quarantine after testing positive for COVID and entering the league’s health and safety protocols. Horford will start with Robert Williams, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart. More so, that will be the starting lineup moving forward. Udoka expects to play Horford 20-25 minutes and in shorter stints in his first game back. “Al’s been great from Day 1 and the leadership and versatility he brings is invaluable for us,” Udoka said.
Coach Udoka confirmed Al Horford is back and in the starting lineup tonight for his regular season debut ☘️— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 22, 2021
The Celtics take on the Raptors at 7:30pm on @NBCSBoston
Watch here ➡️: https://t.co/A4MF3fT4OR… pic.twitter.com/dNO8nwCYMP
During training camp, Udoka stressed the importance of setting the rotation, particularly the opening five, so that players would grow comfortable with their roles and playing time. Udoka likes how his double big frontcourt complements each big man’s skills. In Boston’s preseason game against Toronto two weeks ago, Horford started alongside Williams and on offense, the team utilized his size in the paint. They’ll also use him as a floor spacer for Williams to rim run in pick-and-rolls. Horford hit 5 out of his 8 three-pointers in the preseason.
Josh Richardson will also play in his first regular season game as a Celtic after missing the Knicks game with a migraine.