BOSTON (CBS) -- The biggest question heading into Thursday night's Celtics-Bucks clash was whether or not Boston would make a strong push for the No. 2 seed in the East or rest its star players. It turns out the Celtics will try to do both.
It would appear that Boston is going with a half-measure approach to winning Thursday night's tilt. Jayson Tatum and Al Horford will both sit out the contest, while Jaylen Brown will play against Giannis Antetokounmpo and company. Starting point guard Marcus Smart is probable with a right ankle sprain.
Tatum is sitting out the second leg of Boston's back-to-back with right patella tendinopathy, while Horford is getting a night off with low back soreness. Both played some big minutes in Wednesday night's win over the Chicago Bulls -- Boston's 50th win of the season. The Celtics have done their best to keep Horford fresh throughout the season, so it's no surprise that he's sitting out Thursday night.
Head coach Ime Udoka has said that getting his players some rest down the stretch is more important than the team's seeding. So while Brown is slated to play, we'll see how much playing time he gets.
Thursday night's winner will have the upper leg on clinching the two-seed in the Eastern Conference, though Philadelphia could still make it interesting if it wins out the rest of the way. Should the Celtics lose Thursday and the 76ers beat the Raptors in Toronto, Boston would fall back to the four-seed in the East.
The Celtics have just one game remaining after Thursday night, a visit to the Memphis Grizzlies at 7 p.m. on Sunday. Chances are playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference won't be sorted out until after that game.
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