BOSTON — Well, it looks like the Boston Celtics won’t be taking it too slow with Al Horford.
After missing seven games with a lingering knee injury, Horford returned to action Sunday and logged 19 minutes in the Celtics’ win over the Charlotte Hornets. While the veteran big man was said to be on a minutes restriction upon his return, an exception needed to be made Christmas Day.
Horford, who only was supposed to see about 25 minutes on Tuesday, played 30 minutes in Boston’s thrilling 121-114 overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. Horford had a modest day with four points and nine rebounds, but as Kyrie Irving noted after the game, the calming presence the 12th-year pro brings to the court is invaluable.
The decision to let Horford play extra minutes, of course, was approved by the medical staff, but it seems like head coach Brad Stevens wasn’t overly concerned about Horford exceeding his planned restriction.
“I asked the training staff if they were — if he could play any extra or not,” Stevens said. “In overtime games, we’ve talked about that in the past. Sometimes they say ‘pull him in and out,’ maybe ‘play him in the last two minutes,’ whatever. They said he was fine. They said he was good to go. They said he looked good, felt good and the 25 minutes is obviously precautionary, and on the very conservative side. But at the same time, we made sure to cross those T’s and dot those I’s.”
Horford noted his knee felt good after the game, which he unsurprisingly had all intentions of being a part of in crunch time.
“There was no question that I was gonna play,” Horford said. “Game’s so emotional, we were right there and it just feels good to be able to finish out the game with no issues for me physically and be able to get the win.”