BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics are getting a few reinforcements for Wednesday night’s game against the L.A. Clippers. Only six players have been ruled out for the contest, which is a vast improvement for Boston during the team’s COVID-19 outbreak.
Compare that to last Friday, when 14 players were listed on Boston’s injury report ahead of a Christmas Day matchup with the Bucks. A dozen of those players were in Health & Safety Protocol at the time. That number is now down to six.READ MORE: Bill Belichick Named NFL Executive Of The Year By PFWA
Unfortunately, star forward Jayson Tatum is among those six players and is set to miss his second straight game after being placed in Health & Safety Protocol on Monday. Along with Tatum, Dennis Schroder, Aaron Nesmith, Enes Freedom, C.J. Miles and Bruno Fernando are in protocol and have been ruled out against the Clippers. Starting guard Marcus Smart is also questionable for the game, after he missed Monday’s loss to the Timberwolves in Minnesota with a laceration on his right hand.
But the good news is that Josh Richardson and Justin Jackson have both cleared protocol and are set for a return. Jackson was signed to a 10-day contract on a hardship exception and only appeared in one game for the Celtics before landing in protocol, but Richardson has been an important piece off the Boston bench. The veteran has averaged 10.7 points while playing some solid defense over his 22 games, and he scored a season-high 27 points in a Celtics win over the Knicks on Dec. 18 before landing in protocol.
He’ll now return to Ime Udoka’s rotation, which got Al Horford and Grant Williams back Monday night after both big men missed time in protocol.READ MORE: Revolution, Arsenal Reportedly Agreed To Terms For A Matt Turner Summer Transfer
The team isn’t whole yet, but the Celtics are inching closer. It will also help that the NBA has changed the isolation period for players who test positive from 10 days to six days, as long as players are asymptomatic and meet other testing criteria.
The Clippers are hurting as well, though it’s from actual injuries and not COVID-19. Paul George is out for a month with a torn ligament in his right elbow, and forward Nicolas Batum has been ruled out against Boston with a bad ankle. The Clippers haven’t had Kawhi Leonard all season after the star forward underwent surgery on his ACL over the summer.
Update: The Clippers have announced that rookie Brandon Boston is now out Wednesday night after entering protocol. The 20-year-old had a career game against Boston in Los Angeles on Dec. 8, dropping 27 points off 9-for-13 shooting.MORE NEWS: Brady Celebrates Roethlisberger Upon Steelers QB's Retirement: 'Ben Defied The TB12 Method'
Wednesday night is a big game for the Celtics, who dropped to 16-18 on the season with an embarrassing road loss in Minnesota on Monday. It was Boston’s second straight loss and third in the last four games.