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Celtics to play against the Cavs without Tatum, Horford, and Robert Williams

Tatum finally gets to rest, and Horford takes off the second night of a back-to-back per usual.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics, coming off of a tiring double-overtime loss to the New York Knicks as their third loss in the last four games, will be shorthanded tonight as they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on the second night of a back-to-back. The Celtics will be without Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Robert Williams after beating the Cavs on national TV last Wednesday.

The good news is that this spells the return of Malcolm Brogdon who’s missed the last few games due to right ankle soreness. Unfortunately, this means that the Celtics will be without their best player and their starting frontcourt against a very big opposing frontcourt. Jaylen Brown will have a lot on his shoulders to carry as Boston tries to stop the recent slide of losses.

It would help if Marcus Smart snapped out of his funk as well. He hasn’t performed as his usual self since the All-Star break, instead showing brief flashes on both ends. He ended a frustrating night last night against the Knicks by fouling out against Julius Randle (and a hard knee to the groin probably didn’t help).

Derrick White will also play a big role, likely starting tonight. His production has predictably slowed down since returning to the bench, although he’s still been very effective on both ends. They’ll likely need more scoring from him and Brogdon with Tatum’s absence.

Grant Williams is having a polarizing season, but tonight is a big opportunity for him to reenter the graces of Celtics fans who are down on him with a solid performance. In last Wednesday’s game, Williams was benched in favor of Mike Muscala (who will also get some run tonight alongside Luke Kornet and perhaps Mfiondu Kabengele). Mazzulla indicated that matchups were the reason behind the benching, so it’s clear that against the Cavs, the coaching staff doesn’t have a ton of confidence in Grant in favor of other options. This is a chance to prove him wrong.

Donovan Mitchell posted 44 points last Wednesday alongside Darius Garland’s 29. The Celtics have been carved up on the perimeter, so they’ll need Smart and White to really buckle down and lock up tonight. The Celtics take on the Cavs at 7:00 p.m. ET.

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