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Marcus Smart and Robert Williams both questionable tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers

Boston could be without its starting center for the second time against fellow Atlantic Division foe.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics may or may not be shorthanded coming into tonight’s matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers with Marcus Smart (non-COVID illness) and Robert Williams (right calf tightness) both listed as questionable about 6 hours prior to tip off.

Smart had an early bout with an undisclosed non-COVID illness to start the year which limited his on-court contributions in the early going. After that rough stretch, he’s really come into his own as the team’s starting point guard, helping lead Boston to a 15-4 stretch over the last 19 games, including the team’s current 8-game winning streak that has left the team with the second-best defense in the NBA.

Robert Williams missed an earlier game against the Sixers due to personal reasons, and the timing was off with Al Horford missing due to Health and Safety Protocols. At the time, Enes Kanter Freedom was the only option against Joel Embiid, leading to Freedom matching up with the All-Star center for 40 minutes. Thankfully, the Celtics have much improved frontcourt depth going into this game even if Williams can’t go tonight.

If there was ever a time for Daniel Theis to be ready to suit up for the Celtics, it’s tonight. Theis has a ton of experience battling with Embiid, and although he’s not as effective against big centers like Embiid, it will be nice being able to lean on him a bit more than the undersized Grant Williams in that matchup. Al Horford historically does a solid job of guarding Embiid.

For the Sixers, Paul Millsap wasn’t listed on the injury report, so he should be good to go. James Harden will not be suiting up for Philadelphia until after the All-Star Break.

The Celtics and the Sixers face off tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST on TNT. Boston is 2.0 games behind Philly for the 5th seed.