The Celtics will be extremely shorthanded in the frontcourt on Saturday night, as the team ruled out Aron Baynes, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford out for the team's matchup against the Hornets.
Hayward will miss his third straight game with a concussion, but Brad Stevens sounded optimistic that the swingman is inching closer to a return, perhaps as soon as Sunday night against the Spurs.
“He felt a lot better the last couple of days, has gone through every progression OK, so we’ll see if he’s available Sunday," Stevens told reporters on Friday. "They pushed him pretty good, and he feels pretty good. So hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Horford is out officially due to left knee soreness, but Stevens has said the team planned to rest him at least two or three games over the rest of the regular season. With a back-to-back matchup looming against a tough Spurs frontline on Sunday back in Boston, Saturday's rest looks to be timed strategically.
The best news of the whole day on the injury front may have been on Baynes, who was diagnosed with Grade 2 ankle sprain on Wednesday night in Philadelphia. That type of sprain has forced players to miss weeks of action in the past, but the prognosis on Baynes seems a lot more positive than anticipated after getting tested back on Boston on Thursday.
“He had an MRI that actually came back more positive, so we are hopeful that we get him back sooner rather than later, as well," Stevens said. "I’ve been told, pending the results of it, he’s not an automatic out on Sunday. I’d say he’s unlikely, but he’s not automatically out.”
Analysis: The Celtics practiced with RJ Hunter and PJ Dozier on Friday in Charlotte so look for both two-way players to be in uniform for added depth on Saturday night.