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Al Horford out vs. Magic with groin strain, Avery Bradley close to return

Al Horford will miss Friday’s game against the Orlando Magic due to a groin strain.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON – The curse of the pulled groin has struck again.

Al Horford is out for Friday’s Celtics game against the Orlando Magic. Horford strained his groin late in the win over the Rockets Wednesday, but was able to play through it and finish off the win.

After a day of rest, Horford was ruled out for Friday and is probably for Saturday’s game in Milwaukee.

“Went through a workout this morning; actually felt pretty good,” coach Brad Stevens said before the Magic game. “But not quite 100-percent. Probable for tomorrow.”

Amir Johnson returns to the starting lineup in his place, while Jonas Jerebko and Jaylen Brown will start for the second straight game. Marcus Smart remains on the bench as a second unit sparkplug.

"I thought the ability to rotate out of that group was good," said Stevens. "Hey, when Avery comes back, that's all going to change and when Al comes back that's all going to change. I think, in the meantime, I think it's good that people play and get a chance to do that and it keeps Marcus, too, coming off the bench in that kinda energizer role that I think we really need. We spent a lot of time talking about he's going to play 30 minutes anyways and it makes it a little bit easier to manage those minutes and he gives us a good boost."

The Celtics will miss Horford, who missed out Thursday on his first All-Star team in four years, against a Magic squad that boasts powerful, athletic bigs in Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo.

“He feels a lot better the last two days, been getting treatment,” Stevens said.

“He’ll travel with us [to Milwaukee]. With the stretch that we’re in, combined with it being a muscular injury, I think we wanted to make sure he gets well first.

"He was really sore Wednesday, less sore yesterday," said the coach. "There's no need for additional testing. He's pretty close to being ready to play. And we're not going to play him if it wasn't close."

Stevens also gave an update on Avery Bradley, who has missed seven of the last 10 games by a lingering Achilles injury.

"He's feeling a lot better. It's just a matter of getting a chance to get on the court a little bit, practice, or do a couple of hard workouts before he gets back to play. Ultimately, that'll be his call, along with (trainer) Eddie (Lacerte) and our medical staff."

The Celtics have felt Bradley’s offense more sorely than his ankle, as their defensive rating has been a paltry 110.5 in the last 10 games, 23rd in the league over that span.

"There's no structural issue," Stevens said. "It's just a matter of soreness and making sure that that Achilles feels really good because, again, not only the Achilles and what that means when you're playing on a sore Achilles because you compensate for that some, too, and that can lend to other injuries. Especially again when you're talking about all these games being bang-bang-bang right after each other. That's the thing about Al. Like, we play tomorrow night, we play Monday night, we play Wednesday. If he aggravates it tonight, he could be out for a while. So just being conservative is probably the right move with those guys."

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