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MIAMI — The Boston Celtics say center Al Horford is available to play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals after he missed the series-opening loss to the Miami Heat following his entry into the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Horford abruptly entered the protocols shortly before Tuesday’s Game 1. He had been upgraded twice earlier, going from doubtful Wednesday night to questionable Thursday afternoon, prior to the Celtics’ announcement that he could play.
The Celtics are also expected to have Marcus Smart back in the starting lineup as their point guard and floor general at both ends of the court. He is listed as probable for Game 2 after sitting out Boston’s 118-107 Game 1 loss because of the midfoot sprain he suffered in the Celtics’ Game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.
“He’s better but still has to test it out pregame,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said of Smart. “But he’s probable for tonight. When he goes before the game, we’ll know from there, but he looked better in shootaround today and overall we expect him to play.”
Smart was injured when he tumbled over Bucks superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Celtics also announced that Derrick White would miss Game 2 for personal reasons, as he and his wife are expecting a child.
“Derrick is having a baby,” Udoka said. “It came sooner than expected. But we support our guys always in that situation. He had to rush home today.”
White started Game 1 in place of Smart and finished with three points and four assists in 29 minutes. He is expected to be back with the team for Game 3 on Saturday night when the series shifts back to Boston.