BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics’ Christmas Day matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks just got a whole lot tougher. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been cleared from the NBA’s Health & Safety Protocol and will likely suit up for Milwaukee when Boston visits the defending champs on Saturday afternoon.

Antetokounmpo will hit the court on Friday and a decision if he’ll play against the Celtics will be made on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski. Chances are, the  two-time MVP will not be missing a national TV showdown with the Celtics on the NBA’s big day.

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Giannis missed five games while in protocol and hasn’t played since Dec. 13, when the Celtics handed the Bucks a 117-103 loss in Boston. He had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Bucks that game. He missed a Nov. 12 meeting between the two teams in Boston, which the Celtics won 122-113 in overtime.

For the season, The Greek Freak is averaging 27 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, with Milwaukee sitting at 21-13 for the season.

While the Bucks appear to be getting their star player back for Saturday’s tilt, the Celtics are still dealing with a lot of COVID-19 issues up and down their roster. The injury report released by the team Friday afternoon required five tweets to fit all 14 players in — which would be a record if such things were tracked.

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Bruno Fernando, Enes Freedom, Sam Hauser, Justin Jackson, C.J. Miles, Aaron Nesmith, Jabari Parker, Josh Richardson and Grant Williams have all been ruled out for Saturday’s game as they remain in Health & Safety Protocol. Juancho Hernangomez, Al Horford and Brodric Thomas are still in protocol but are listed as questionable for the game.

A pair of other Celtics are questionable with actual injuries: guards Romeo Langford (Left Achilles Tendinopathy) and Marcus Smart (left hip contusion).

Who is healthy on the Celtics? Starters Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams are good, with Dennis Schroder, Payton Pritchard and Joe Johnson there to fill out the rotation. So they better hope that Smart and Langford are healthy enough to play, and that at least Horford is also cleared to return.

Boston is also reportedly set to sign big men Al-Farouq Aminu and Norvel Pelle, and it’s safe to assume that they’d get some run if their deals are complete before game time Saturday.

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CBSBoston.com Staff