Celtics coach Brad Stevens said backup center Vincent Poirier, who has been sidelined since Dec. 17 because of a broken finger, could return late next week.
Poirier has appeared in just nine games this season, averaging 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds. But with Robert Williams sidelined indefinitely because of a hip edema, Poirier could have value in the coming weeks.
“[That] would really help us,” Stevens said before the Celtics rolled over the Pelicans, 140-105, on Saturday night. “Obviously we’ve run into some size issues at times, and the more bodies the better. I felt really good about us when we were rotating three guys at the start of the year, and we haven’t been able to do that as much. Grant [Williams] can play the 5 in some matchups and in some it’s tough.”
Grant Williams was the lone Celtic who played Saturday not to score, fouling out in 13 minutes with two turnovers and without attempting a shot.
Rookie Romeo Langford remained out Saturday with an illness, although Stevens said he had improved considerably. Langford completed a weight room workout during Boston’s morning shootaround.
Tacko Fall and Tremont Waters were both reassigned to the team’s G League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.
Tatum’s Star turn
Jayson Tatum said he would like to defend his Skills Challenge title at All-Star Weekend if he is elected to play in the All-Star Game. Which, despite Saturday’s 41-point masterpiece in just 30 minutes, is far from a sure thing.
Tatum participated in the Rising Stars Challenge and the Skills Challenge last year in Charlotte, beating Memphis’s Mike Conley in the Skills final.
“Yeah I’d like to defend my title,” he said. “But that’s if I am in the [All-Star] Game.”
Tatum said he hasn’t officially been invited to the Skills Challenge, and he is fifth in All-Star voting for Eastern Conference frontcourt players, about 550,000 votes behind Toronto’s Pascal Siakam for the third spot.
The first three frontcourt players in cumulative fan, player, and media votes are named All-Star starters. Tatum, averaging 21.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game after Saturday’s career night, will likely have to be selected as a reserve by the coaches.
Zion getting closer
The Celtics have dealt with plenty of injuries this season, but they had their core intact for Saturday’s game. The same could not be said of New Orleans, which was without point guard Jrue Holiday (elbow), forward Derrick Favors (hamstring), guard JJ Redick (hamstring), Kenrich Williams (back), and No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson (knee), who has yet to play this season.
Williamson has resumed practicing with New Orleans, and there was some thought that he might make his regular-season debut against Boston, but coach Alvin Gentry said they are not quite ready to unveil him yet.
“He’s progressing fine,” Gentry said. “He’s been through a few practices. The problem we’ve had is that we haven’t had an opportunity to practice. We practiced before we left, and basically on this trip, we have no days to practice. He does some development workouts and things like that. He is progressing. There will come a time when we stick him out to play, but we don’t have an exact date.”