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Al Horford (protocol), Marcus Smart (foot) out for Celtics in Game 1

May 15, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) pumps his fist as he heads back up court after hitting a basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half of game seven of the second round of the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics big man Al Horford entered COVID-19 health and safety protocol Tuesday and will miss Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the host Miami Heat.

The Celtics also ruled out point guard Marcus Smart, who was considered a game-time decision due to a right mid-foot sprain.

Horford is averaging 13.0 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks across 11 playoff games (all starts). The 35-year-old played a crucial role in Game 4 of the Celtics’ second-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks, when he scored a playoff career-best 30 points on 11-for-14 shooting to help Boston even that series at two games apiece.

Smart is averaging 15.0 points and 6.2 assists per game in 10 playoff games (all starts), slightly up from his regular-season averages of 12.1 points and 5.9 assists.

He had an MRI exam on Monday that detected a mid-foot sprain, which he suffered during Sunday’s Game 7 triumph over the Bucks.

When Smart missed Game 2 of the Milwaukee series with a thigh contusion, Derrick White started at point guard. Center Robert Williams III, now at full health, could draw back into the starting five in Horford’s absence.

–Field Level Media