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Late scratches were a theme for the Celtics in their second-round series against the Bucks. Marcus Smart and Robert Williams were ruled out less than two hours before tip-off for several games vs. Milwaukee.

Unfortunately for Boston, the trend is carrying over to the start of the Eastern Conference Finals. About two-and-a-half hours before Game 1 against the Heat, Al Horford is no longer available for the series opener due to entering health and safety protocols. The Celtics also ruled out Marcus Smart because of a right mid-foot sprain.

The Horford news is surprising. Especially when considering the Celtics included him in a video they released on social media from their shootaround today. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Boston's prepared for the likely scenario Horford remains in the NBA's health and safety protocols through Game 2 on Thursday.

As for Smart, Monday, referring to a play in the first quarter of Game 7 where Giannis Antetokounmpo got fouled as he drove to the rim, resulting in Antetokounmpo crashing into Smart's legs as the latter was in the air, Ime Udoka said: "He took a pretty bad fall. He got bent up. He has a foot sprain. He's pretty tender and sore right now."

Tuesday, Udoka relayed there's still some swelling, and Smart's availability depended on how he reacted to treatment throughout the day.

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On a positive note, Robert Williams is available without a minute restriction. As seen in the tweet above, Wojnarowski also provided an update on his progression leading into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, reporting Williams "had a couple good days of practice and should be able to play significant minutes in Game 1."

Further Reading

A More Mature Celtics Team Ready for Familiar Challenges from Heat in 2020 Eastern Conference Finals Rematch

Robert Williams Available Without Minutes Restriction for Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference Finals

Marcus Smart Questionable for Game 1 vs. Heat Due to Mid-Foot Sprain

Celtics Discuss Bouncing Back From 3-2 Deficit to Get by Bucks: 'I think it will boost our confidence going forward'

Celtics, Grant Williams, Discuss His Epic Game 7-Performance: 'Let it fly; They're disrespecting you more tonight than earlier in the series'

What Stood Out from Game 7: Celtics Pick Ideal Time for Their Best Game of the Playoffs