Jrue Holiday has missed the Celtics last two games with an ankle injury. Eric Verduzco/Associated Press

The Celtics were forced to play without two starters in their win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, with Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday out with injuries.

Porzingis missed his first full game after injuring his left calf in a loss to the Magic on Friday. Holiday, meanwhile, has missed two games with an ankle sprain. Holiday appears to be nearing his return and Porzingis isn’t expected to miss significant time.

“(Holiday) went through a workout on the court today said he was doing a little bit better,” Celtics Coach Joe Mazzulla said Monday. “I think we’ll kind of know how he responds to that tomorrow and see how he does in the shootaround.”

Mazzulla said pregame Sunday that Porzingis will likely be out for a week. He noted Monday that they’re still taking it day-to-day and Porzingis is feeling a little better. For the most part, Mazzulla said he thinks the big man will be all right.

Porzingis has a history of injuries throughout his career. Holiday is 33, so the Celtics are going to focus on keeping him fresh for the playoffs.

THE CELTICS will be playing for their In-Season Tournament lives on Tuesday night when they host the Bulls at TD Garden. Boston needs to win and get some help from other teams in the mix to have a chance to advance to the quarterfinals after dropping to 2-1 in pool play with a 119-96 loss to Orlando. That loss in particular left a sour taste in the mouth of Celtics All Star Jayson Tatum after the Magic ran up the score later in the win despite most of Boston’s starters being on the bench.


Orlando trying to win by more comes as no surprise as the NBA has incentivized bigger point differentials for In-Season Tournament games by using that category as a tiebreaker for pool play. However, Tatum does like this aspect of the format.

“The point differential thing, I’m not the biggest fan of it because there were certain instances, I guess last Friday, where the game is already over and guys are still trying to score,” Tatum said Sunday night after beating the Hawks. “It’s all about respecting the game and respecting your opponents so that part I’m really not a fan of because if you were on the opposite end of that you would feel some kind of way. So I understand. So just try to win the game however we can.”

Mazzulla admitted to weighing this part of the tournament rules in his decision-making process as the game fell out of reach Friday. Boston’s 17-point loss dropped the team’s point differential to zero and dramatically hurt its odds of advancing past the group stage.

“I mean, I thought about it but at the end of the day, Jrue was out, we had lost Porzingis,” Mazzulla said. “I wasn’t willing to risk a point differential for the sake of the long-term health of our team. That was kind of the decision that I made there. It’s obviously something that you process and go through. I think Dalano tried to go in for a layup and may have missed, so we were aware of it.”

Despite those concerns, Tatum is still a fan of the event that could come to a close for Boston on Tuesday night unless the team can blow out the Bulls and get some other favorable results across pool play.

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