Celtics' Al Horford Available for ECF Game 2 vs. Heat After Clearing COVID Protocols

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 19, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics looks on in the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on March 16, 2022 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics announced Al Horford will return to the lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat on Thursday night.

Horford missed the Celtics' 118-107 defeat in Game 1 on Tuesday after entering the NBA's health and safety protocols.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that the Celtics were "prepared for the likely scenario" of Horford missing Game 2 as well, but the team upgraded him to questionable earlier on Thursday. That led to optimism about his chances of clearing the protocols in time for Game 2's 8:30 p.m. ET tip.

Even with Horford back, Boston won't be at full strength on Thursday night. Derrick White will miss Game 2 to attend the birth of his child.

Horford averaged 10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the regular season, and he has been even better in the playoffs. Through 11 games, he's shooting 52.4 percent from the field and 45.1 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 13.0 points and 9.4 rebounds.

The Celtics outscored the Heat 48-40 in the paint and finished with only one fewer rebound (38) than Miami (39). They sorely missed Horford's veteran leadership while they unraveled in the third quarter, though.