The Boston Celtics will have a depleted roster when they visit the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, as Aron Baynes (ankle), Gordon Hayward (concussion) and Al Horford (left knee soreness) have all been ruled out for the game.
Aron Baynes sprained his left ankle in the first half of Wednesday’s 118-115 loss against the Sixers and did not return. He had four points and three rebounds in 12 minutes and while the results of his MRI were “more positive than expected,” his recovery timetable remains unknown.
Gordon Hayward has missed the last two games as he remains in concussion protocol following a collision with forward John Collins on Saturday’s 129-120 home win against the Hawks.
Al Horford knocked knees with Joel Embiid toward the end of the 118-115 loss to the Sixers on Wednesday and he’s dealing with left knee soreness.
Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports explained that Horford missing Saturday’s game isn’t surprising:
Al Horford sitting out tomorrow is no surprise. Brad Stevens said Horford would sit 3-4 games down the stretch. It’s unlikely Horford will play both ends of a back-to-back for the rest of the season. Boston plays at Charlotte Saturday and then at home vs San Antonio on Sunday.
Celtics Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Hornets
*Notates expected starter
C: Robert Williams III*, Greg Monroe
PF: Marcus Morris*, Semi Ojeleye, Guerschon Yabusele
SF: Jayson Tatum*, Daniel Theis
SG: Marcus Smart*, Jaylen Brown
PG: Kyrie Irving*, Terry Rozier
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Celtics signed free agent center Greg Monroe to a 10-day contract. The team acquired Monroe last season for the playoff push and he played valuable minutes against the Bucks in the first round.
Greg Monroe averaged 10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 19.1 minutes over 26 games with the Celtics in the regular season but his numbers dropped to 4.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in 9.5 minutes over 11 games in the playoffs.
Monroe started this season with the Raptors and he averaged 4.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 11.1 minutes over 38 games before they traded him and a second-round pick to the Nets for $110,000 in cash. Brooklyn then waived him and he could be available for this game.
With Baynes missing time and Horford resting, Monroe will provide frontcourt depth and the fact that he already knows the system helps.
The Celtics have lost their last two games and they’re still in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, a half-game behind the Pacers and four games behind the Sixers, so they can’t afford to keep dropping games.
The Hornets are coming off an important 113-106 home win against the Timberwolves and they’re 2.5 games behind the Heat for the last playoff spot in the East. With their playoff chances disappearing with every setback, they need to keep winning while waiting for the Heat and Magic to fall.
Kyrie Irving had 36 points, nine rebounds and four assists in the loss in Philadelphia and the Celtics need him, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris to carry them in Charlotte. Irving’s matchup against Kemba Walker will be fun to watch and it can determine the outcome of this game.