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Tristan Thompson (Health and Safety Protocols) ruled out against the Jazz

Boston will be without its No. 1 rebounder as they take ona perennial DPOY candidate.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Tristan Thompson will now join Romeo Langford on the injury report for the foreseeable future after being put into the league’s Health and Safety Protocols. As a result, he’ll miss tonight’s game as the Boston Celtics take on the Utah Jazz.

Romeo Langford is still within the Health and Safety Protocols despite being cleared to play last week. He still hasn’t made his season debut. It’s unclear whether Langford or Thompson have COVID-19, but if they don’t, they should be only subject to a seven-day quarantine. That would put Langford’s season debut later this week and would mean a return to play for Thompson at early next week. If either of the players contracted COVID-19, their placement in the H&SP (I just made that up; do people refer to it with an acronym? I hope so because it’s a lot to type out each time) could be on the extended end.

Thompson’s absence comes at a critical time for the Celtics’ frontcourt rotation. After the blowout win against the Houston Rockets, Brad Stevens noted that he’ll be straying away from double big lineups as the Celtics aim to go smaller down the stretch of the season. That’s why Daniel Theis played no more than 7 minutes. Robert Williams has emerged as Boston’s best big this season, and while his health mandates that he can’t play extensive minutes at the moment, a less crowded frontcourt will give the team a better look at how they can move forward – especially as the March 25th trade deadline approaches.

Tristan Thompson, signed in November, is already finding himself in trade rumors. After an underwhelming start to the season after the Celtics signed him to be a brute force in a frontcourt that was bullied in the playoffs, Thompson has actually been very solid over the last two months despite shooting splits on the low end. It’s clear that he has a role on this roster, but Ainge needs to decide if his place fits concurrently with Daniel Theis’ place and Robert Williams’ ever-growing place. With the Celtics going smaller over the season, this week (or more) could serve as a trial run to see how much or how little the Celtics need Thompson’s rebounding and interior presence.

Given Stevens’ comments, it’s unlikely that Robert Williams will take Thompson’s place in the starting lineup. Marcus Smart will be the long-term starter, but that’s more of a plan for when his minutes restriction is up. Will this latest wrinkle accelerate those plans? Will Stevens go more toward Grant Williams or Semi Ojeleye (who had a great game against Houston)? We’ll find out closer to tip.

The Boston Celtics will take on the Utah Jazz tonight at 7:30 PM EST.

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