As the Celtics look to bounce back after a Heat haymaker in the third quarter of Game 1 staked them to a 1-0 series lead, aiding their cause is the anticipated return of Marcus Smart, who missed Tuesday's matchup due to a right mid-foot sprain. Thursday, Ime Udoka said Smart's availability for Game 2 comes down to how he responds when he tests his foot pregame.
Having Smart, who they've dubbed the heart and soul of the team, back in the lineup would go a long way for Boston, who missed his attitude and physicality as much as his ball-handling in Game 1's loss. The Celtics committed 16 turnovers in the defeat, including eight in the third frame. Miami converted those mistakes into 19 points.
However, while Smart trends towards returning, Derrick White is no longer available for Game 2 due to personal reasons. Udoka said Thursday, "Derrick is having a baby. It came sooner than expected, but we support our guys always in that situation."
White started in Smart's absence in the series opener, logging 29 minutes and contributing three points, four assists, and a block.
White's absence means more minutes for Payton Pritchard. Jimmy Butler, who scored a game-high 41 points in Tuesday's matchup, relentlessly targeted Pritchard in the pick-and-roll. Even with Jayson Tatum doing a good job getting back to Butler, it was a method that often produced points for the Heat. In Pritchard's usual workload, perhaps the Celtics could continue with their approach from Game 1. But with White not playing in Thursday's contest, they may feel there's more of a need to mix up how they defend that.
Lastly, after entering health and safety protocols Tuesday, Al Horford is listed as doubtful for Game 2 on Boston's injury report. Thursday, Udoka said of Horford: "He was not feeling ill. Like I said the other day, he's feeling fine, and it was something that was unexpected."
Thursday night's tip-off for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals is at 8:30 ET. 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.