In a rare occurrence this season, Friday's matchup between the Celtics and Hawks will feature two teams at full strength. While Atlanta has no injuries or absences to report, the only players out for Boston are P.J. Dozier, who's recovering from a torn ACL, and Bol Bol, who underwent surgery on his right foot before the Celtics acquired him.
Speaking with the media after practice on Wednesday, Ime Udoka said Bol has been with the team the past few days to get him acclimated to the group and start learning the schemes the Celtics will ask him to execute if he returns this season.
"He’s been around the group for a few days now, and we’re just getting him up to speed with what we do and how we do things. And so just good to have him around the group.”
Udoka said there's no timeline for Bol's return, something that might not happen this season. Last Thursday, in his weekly appearance on Toucher & Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Brad Stevens said Bol is out for "10-12 weeks," meaning there's a chance he suits up for the Celtics near the end of the current campaign.
Bol is a restricted free agent this offseason, making it easier for Boston to re-sign him. Stevens described that component of acquiring the seven-foot-two center as "a big part of it."
With Bol and Dozier the only players unavailable for Friday's matchup in Atlanta, the Celtics get to see their starting lineup share the floor for only the 15th time this season.
So far, when Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Robert Williams play together, the results are overwhelmingly positive. According to NBA.com, in 174 minutes, that unit's producing 113.2 points per 100 possessions, has a 91.3 defensive rating, and a 21.9 net rating.
That group will need to continue performing at a high level for the Celtics to beat a Hawks team that's won five games in a row and is trying to claw their way into the play-in tournament. Atlanta is on the outside looking in at the postseason picture, but with the standings congested, reside only 2.5 games back of Boston, who's in eighth in the East.
The Celtics and Hawks tip-off at 7:30 EST. Inside The Celtics will have content related to the game coming out before, during, and after. And follow @BobbyKrivitsky on Twitter for updates and analysis from pregame to post.