The Celtics haven’t beaten Orlando since late in the 2017-18 season and could be forced to do so without several of their key contributors. While center Robert Williams remains out indefinitely with a hip injury, fellow big man Enes Kanter will be joining him in street clothes on Friday, also dealing with a hip injury.
While those two are definitely missing the game in Orlando, there’s also the issue of both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum who are dealing with injuries and are questionable for Friday.
Brown, who is also nursing a sprained thumb, also is dealing with a right ankle sprain. Tatum, meanwhile, was pulled from Wednesday night’s victory over Memphis with a groin injury, though he did return to the bench sporting an ace bandage around his leg. The game was in hand when he came back to the court and therefore didn’t re-enter the contest.
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Starting Lineup vs Orlando
The Celtics could go with a couple different options on Friday night, but it all depends on whether Brown is good to go. Regardless, the Celtics could limit their minutes if they’re available.
According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, Tatum will miss out on Friday’s game.
Without Tatum, not only will Boston be in trouble offensively, but they may have to get creative with their lineup. Here’s what that could look like:
C – Daniel Theis
PF – Gordon Hayward
SF – Jaylen Brown
SG – Marcus Smart
PG – Kemba Walker
With fewer scoring weapons on the wings, the Celtics would need to counter with additional defense. Smart and Semi Ojeleye have been solid options off the bench while serving as a pair of the top defensive players in the NBA this season. Both have also showcased good shooting range, particularly Smart who broke a franchise-record of 11-straight 3-pointers last week.
Brown may be limited, even if he does start. Himmelsbach confirmed he would be a game-time decision.
With both Kanter and Williams out, the Celtics recalled rookie center Tacko Fall from the G-League Maine Red Claws as an additional option off the bench. Fall played his college basketball in Orlando at Central Florida where he set the NCAA record for career field-goal percentage at 73.95 percent.
Fall has played sparingly in the NBA this season, amassing a total of 22 minutes including 10 against San Antonio back on January 8. He has scored 17 points and is shooting 72.7 percent from the field in NBA play this year.
Down in the G-League, Fall has played in 17 games, averaging a double-double with 13.5 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game. He also collects 2.8 blocks per game and is shooting 72.7 percent as well.
Despite his limited NBA totals, Fall was listed among the top-10 in All-Star Game fan voting for the Eastern Conference frontcourt according to the league’s first release of data in early January.