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Al Horford out against Nuggets, Kyrie Irving probable

The Celtics’ most recent injury report includes a mix of good and bad news.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics announced that star big man Al Horford will sit out the team’s game against the Denver Nuggets tonight. Horford, who was listed as questionable in the Celtics most recent clash against the Bulls, was not identified as having a specific ailment, but rather taking a night off for rest.

Boston’s choice to sit Horford in this particular game comes as a bit of strategic ingenuity. The Celtics will avoid the $100,000 fine that can now be assessed to teams that rest players in “high-profile, nationally televised games”- a categorization that tonight’s matchup with the Nuggets doesn’t not qualify for.

Boston also limits the potential in-game consequences of not having Horford available, by sitting him out against a similarly shorthanded opponent. Denver will be without it’s two best big men in Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap.

Horford joins a growing list of missing players. It was reported yesterday that his teammate Marcus Morris will miss extended time with a lingering knee issue, and while Gordon Hayward has made progress in recovering from the horrific leg injury he sustained on opening night, he is likely to remain out for the entirety of the year.

The Celtics’ injury report isn’t all bad, however. Leading scorer, Kyrie Irving, who missed Monday’s game in Chicago with a quad contusion, is listed as probable. That he was sidelined for just a single game is encouraging, and it suggests that both he and Horford should be on the court together soon.

Obviously the ideal situation would be for neither to miss time, but such is the nature of the NBA grind. The Celtics are in the middle of their most hellish stretch of this year’s schedule- a concentration of games intentionally front-loaded to provide enough buffer for the team’s trip to London in early January. Minor injuries and rest days are an inevitability.

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