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Celtics coach Ime Udoka misses session due to what team calls non-COVID illness

The specter of COVID and illness continues to be a factor in the Eastern Conference final 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 p.m. Game 2 in FTX Arena.

While the Celtics offered no updates on Horford, word Wednesday was that guard Marcus Smart, the 2022 defensive player of the year, could return Thursday from the mid-foot sprain that had him out for Tuesday’s series-opening Heat victory.

For the Heat, point guard Kyle Lowry remains an unknown, since he has been sidelined with a hamstring strain for five of the past seven Heat games.

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