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Hours before Game 1 of the Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference finals, Boston announced that starting center Al Horford entered health and safety protocols and would miss Tuesday night’s game.

The announcement came as a surprise after Horford appeared in a Twitter video Tuesday afternoon highlighting the team’s practices leading up to Game 1. This is Horford’s first playoff absence this season.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Horford is expected to remain in health and safety protocols through Game 2 on Thursday night. Grant Williams is expected to start in Horford’s place.

Horford’s absence leaves Boston without two starters In Game 1, as Marcus Smart will also be sidelined by a foot sprain he suffered against the Bucks in the second round.

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In good news for the Celtics, center Robert Williams is returning for Game 1 after missing the last four games due to left knee soreness.

Horford’s absence is a big loss defensively for the Celtics as he leads the team in rebounds with an average of 9.4 per game during the playoffs. His postseason highlight came when he scored a playoff career-high 30 points In Boston’s Game 4 win vs. the Bucks during the conference semifinals.

In his last appearance on Sunday in Game 7 vs. the Bucks, Horford finished with six points, 10 rebounds, six assists and one block in 40 minutes.

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