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Travel delay landed Celtics back from Milwaukee hours before Jazz game

An issue with the team’s planned flight from Milwaukee last night led the Celtics to fly this morning and land this afternoon before facing the Jazz.

Utah Jazz v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

BOSTON — The Celtics arrived back in Boston around 1:30 p.m. EST from Milwaukee after a the postponement of their team flight last night after beating the Bucks, 140-99, Grant Williams said shortly before they tipped-off against the Jazz on Friday. The team traveled to the airport on Thursday night, boarded the plane, then returned to the hotel after a 25-minute delay on the tarmac.

“The pilot got, we just had some issues, and then we flew out this morning,” Williams said. “We couldn’t get out last night after the game, so we scrambled, stayed the night and then flew out this morning ... you just can’t control anything, you’re trying to get back home, but unforeseen circumstances don’t allow you to.”

Williams flew the day of a game to Minnesota during the 2020-21 season after clearing COVID protocol, but the Celtics last flew as a team on Jan. 3, 2014, according to Sean Grande. Boston lost that game to the Pelicans at home, 95-92, but is 3-2 following game-day travel since 2001. They previously traveled back home during the 2002 and 2013 seasons, while they beat Denver and Detroit, respectively, during 2004 and 2008.

The rare circumstance landed Jaylen Brown (back) and Jayson Tatum on the injury report Thursday afternoon, but Joe Mazzulla announced both players would start with Robert Williams III and Al Horford missing the second half of the back-to-back as they have all year. Blake Griffin will start at center.

Payton Pritchard, who told CelticsBlog/CLNS Media he re-aggravated an injury to his heel in Washington, is available after missing Thursday’s win at Milwaukee. Mazzulla, speaking pre-game, did not acknowledge the travel issue, while Williams agreed that it can’t be an excuse. Brown mentioned traffic in Washington D.C. throwing off the team’s pre-game routine before their loss to the Wizards on Tuesday.

“Safe flight, got back, we’re here ready to play the game,” Mazzulla said. “It wasn’t delayed, no, (we got back) at a reasonable hour. Enough time to where we were able to rest and prepare our minds and get ready for the game ... we’re safe, we’re here, we’re ready to play. It’s not an excuse. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. The only thing that matters is we’re getting ready for Utah. We’re safe. We’re healthy. We’re rested. We got a good night’s sleep. Whenever the flight landed, it would’ve been today.”

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