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Celtics' Smart upgraded to probable, with Heat's Lowry still out, as pandemic, protocols remain series factors

Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

MIAMI — The specter COVID and illness continues to be a factor in the Eastern Conference finals series between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics.

A day after the Celtics big man Al Horford entered the NBA’s heath-and-safety protocols, Boston coach Ime Udoka was unavailable for his team’s Wednesday media session due to what the Celtics said was a non-COVID illness.

However, ongoing concerns about the pandemic continue to impact the NBA playoffs for a third consecutive year, with the Heat returning to a mask mandate for all media at Wednesday’s interview session.

In addition, it is believed that ESPN now will conduct pregame coaching interviews remotely.

Horford, as of Wednesday, was not expected to be available for Thursday’s 8:30 Game 2 and FTX Arena, formally listed as doubtful by the Celtics.

It is not the scenario Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had hoped for by this stage of the pandemic.

 

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “It’s like every single time you think it’s getting beyond this, it’s not.”

That had him empathizing with the Celtics.

“You want to beat their best with our best,” he said. “It’s just not the world we’re living in.”

Heat guard Tyler Herro said Wednesday the return of COVID and illness is just a sign of the times.

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