A day after scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in 32 minutes to help beat the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics announced that Al Horford will get a day of rest and not play against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The timing is funny because one of the big topics of conversation after the game was how good Horford has been feeling after seeing an uptick in his minutes.
“I’m understanding what we’re playing for and the goals that we have as a group,” he said. “Looking at the big picture, that’s how I was able to get through it. Because in the moments I want to be out there in the games, but at the same time we want to make sure that there are no restrictions later in the season and things like that. So, I think we’re over that and now I can just continue to play.”
“I think Al’s played really well on this stretch and I think it’s coincided with an increase in minutes,” Brad Stevens said after the game. “He feels great, so the whole thing of progressing him through the month of December at the appropriate pace I think has paid dividends.”
Horford missed seven of Boston’s 14 games in December and returned on a minutes restriction as part of the team’s treatment for patellofemoral pain syndrome. That restriction appears to have been lifted and Horford has played 31 minutes a game during the winning streak. He’s averaging 17.8 points per game on 66 percent shooting to go along with nearly eight rebounds per game over that stretch.
Boston is choosing to sit Horford against the nine-win Cavaliers, losers of four straight and 16 of their last 17, so he can be ready for Saturday’s marquee matchup against the Golden State Warriors. Boston has two days off between those games, which is the first time they’ll have multiple days off between games since they had three days off before facing the Phoenix Suns on December 19. This will give Boston a chance to actually get a full practice in, something they haven’t done since mid-December as well.