Guerschon Yabusele likely to return, but Celtics still shorthanded

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BOSTON — Boston Celtics second-year big man Guerschon Yabusele is expected to be available for Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks after missing five games with a sprained ankle.

Still, the Celtics remain shorthanded up front as Al Horford will miss his seventh straight game while trying to combat knee soreness that has lingered. What’s more, Marcus Morris will miss a second straight game due to his own knee soreness.

Yabusele’s return comes at a time when the Celtics need some extra heft up front. Aron Baynes broke his hand on Wednesday and the Celtics said he will be out 4-6 weeks.

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Without Horford, Morris and Baynes, the Celtics will lean heavier on their stable of young bigs, including Daniel Theis and rookie Robert Williams.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens feared an extended absence after Yabusele suffered an ankle sprain in Chicago on Dec. 8, but Yabusele avoided the more serious high ankle sprain and made a surprisingly quick recovery.

"The initial sprain wasn’t a high ankle sprain, which in my uneducated un-medical view, I initially thought it was the way he fell,” Stevens said at Boston’s morning shootaround on Friday. "Any time you’ve got a guy his size that sprains an ankle, you’re probably even more concerned about it. But he’s done a great job of getting back, he feels really good. They wouldn’t give him a green light if he wasn’t full go.”

Yabusele, with his new blonde ‘do, got up shots before Boston’s shootaround Friday and even had a stretch where he made 16 consecutive 3-pointers.

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Horford was working in the strength area as teammates got up shots on Friday morning. Stevens stressed that there had been "no setbacks, just not there yet.”

The Celtics will likely lean heavier on second-year forward Semi Ojeleye, who the team has often deployed against Antetokounmpo, including in Game 7 of last year’s playoff matchup when Ojeleye elevated to a starting role in the deciding game.

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