BOSTON — The Boston Celtics are taking the appropriate steps to ensure Al Horford is healthy and ready to go when it matters most.
Horford is one of several Celtics players who has been bitten by the injury bug this season. A lingering knee ailment forced the veteran big man to miss seven straight games last month, but he’s yet to be inactive since returning Dec. 23.
Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden, head coach Brad Stevens revealed the Celtics’ plan of attack as it pertains to Horford’s minutes. While the 12th-year pro technically is on a minutes restriction, it sounds like Boston won’t be exceedingly cautious moving forward.
“It’s gone up. We’re trying to keep him within 27, 28 minutes,” Stevens said. “Obviously, if it goes 29 or 26 or whatever the case may be, it’s more of a — we don’t want to backlog 36-minute games back-to-back-to-back-to-back, one after another with coming off the knee and he’s already played eight or nine straight after that. He feels good, he looks good. We did this with (Marcus) Morris last year and by March Morris felt great and really played well, obviously, towards the end of the season. It’s a fairly similar plan.”
The Celtics’ lenience with Horford’s minutes was made evident fairly early upon his return. In just his second game back in game action, Horford logged 30 minutes in Boston’s thrilling overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas Day. That said, he’s logged 25 minutes or less in the other seven games.
It should be interesting to see how the C’s manage Horford over the next few days. Following Wednesday’s game against the Pacers, Boston will travel to Miami for the second leg of a back-to-back against the Heat on Thursday before visiting the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
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