After missing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, Al Horford has officially been upgraded to questionable heading into tonight’s Game 2. Horford originally entered the NBA’s health & safety protocols, sparking fears of a COVID outbreak within the team.
To make matters worse, ESPN’S Brian Windhorst then reported that multiple members of the Celtics traveling party had recently tested positive and that Horford was just the latest name on the list.
“A huge curveball ahead of a major series like this. Al Horford has been in the protocols three times this season, once in the pre-season, once in December, and now. Just because he’s in the protocols doesn’t mean he’s tested positive, but that was the indication yesterday (Tuesday, May 17). The Celtics have had multiple positives in their traveling party in this past week, so there has been some concern about this,” Windhorst said on a recent episode of Get Up.
However, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics have continued to test Al Horford in a bid to ‘test him out of protocols’ - a process that is likely still ongoing.
Should Horford return to the rotation, the Celtics would be close to full strength after playing Game 1 short-handed due to his absence and Marcus Smart, who missed the game due to a foot injury.
Of course, neither the Celtics nor Horford are out of the woods yet, as there’s still a chance that he fails to ‘test out’ of protocols in time to participate in Game 2 for the Celtics. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports recently shared an update on the two ways Horford can clear himself to participate in Thursday’s game.
How Al Horford can return after positive COVID-19 test:— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 19, 2022
1. Two consecutive negative PCR tests at least 24hrs apart
2. Two consecutive PCR tests at least 24hrs apart w/ CT values greater than 30 starting no sooner than Day 4 & Day 5 (where Day 0 is date of initial positive test)
Horford has been exceptional for the Celtics this season but has found another gear in the playoffs and has quickly become one of the most important members of the team outside of Jayson Tatum. The veteran big man put on a defensive masterclass against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks and has found his scoring range from the perimeter, converting 45.1% of his 4.6 three-point attempts per game.
Furthermore, the Florida product will provide the Celtics with a huge boost on the defensive end, as his ability to guard both the paint and perimeter will ensure Boston can throw different looks at Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, who both dominated proceedings for the Heat in the first meeting between the two teams.
The Celtics and Heat are set to face off at 8:30 pm ET.