Celtics

Celtics' Al Horford will miss 'three or four games' prior to playoffs

Celtics' Al Horford will miss 'three or four games' prior to playoffs

BOSTON -- Al Horford played a little more than 28 minutes in the 129-120 win over Atlanta, the fewest of any of the Celtics’ starters. 

While it’s unlikely Horford will log lower-than-usual minutes in the remaining games of the regular season, he will be under a “strategic rest” plan that will limit him in the remaining regular season games.

"We have three or four games already picked out over the next 12 that Al will not play," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "And so if he feels like tomorrow he doesn't feel good, he won't play Monday [against Denver]. We'll make sure we manage that. He's felt great all the way through this."

Horford’s minutes were reduced on Saturday due to some knee soreness that, after the game, Horford said was unrelated to the knee issues he had earlier this season that forced him to miss eight games. 

Still, there was enough concern with the soreness on Saturday to the point where Stevens wasn’t sure if Horford would return in the second half. 

“I was trying to get through [the game] without him,” Stevens said. “And he told me with about nine minutes in the fourth that he felt better for whatever reason and was good to go.”

But it became clear to Stevens that if the Celtics were indeed going to hold on and beat this scrappy Hawks team, he was going to have little choice but to throw Horford back in the game. 

Said Stevens: “My hope was not to put him back in but that stretch from the end of the third to the middle of the fourth was not good for us.”

Boston led 105-92 after the third quarter, but the Hawks closed out the quarter with a 14-2 run and began the fourth with a 7-1 spurt which cut the Celtics lead to 106-99 with 8:53 to play. 

Atlanta eventually tied it at 112, but Boston finished things off with a 17-8 run to pull away.

And Horford’s impact?

He missed both of his shot attempts from the field in the fourth but he grabbed four rebounds along with dishing out a pair of assists along with having a plus/minus of +6 in the fourth, which was tops on the team. 

For the game, Horford had nine points, six rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot. 

And as important as it is for the Celtics to try and finish out the regular season playing well, Boston has been consistent in its belief that they will not sacrifice someone being ready to roll for the playoffs to pick up a regular season win or two. 

That’s why, the way Horford sees it, him missing three or four games among the remaining regular-season matchups is more precautionary than anything else. 

“The amount of games we’ve played at the level we’ve been playing at...making sure I’m at my best,” Horford said before adding, “we’re all at our best, come playoff time.”

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Celtics vs. Pacers odds: Best NBA picks as C's eye fifth straight win

Celtics vs. Pacers odds: Best NBA picks as C's eye fifth straight win

The Boston Celtics are back to their winning ways ... and so are we.

The Celtics' current hot streak -- four consecutive wins -- coincides with our good luck on the betting front, where we're 4-0 picking the moneyline and point spread in Boston's last two games.

The C's face a tough test Wednesday night when they roll into Bankers Life Fieldhouse to play the Indiana Pacers, who are in the Eastern Conference hunt at 15-9.

How will Wednesday's game shake out? Here are our betting predictions for Celtics-Pacers, as well as two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m. ET

Moneyline: Gordon Hayward showed virtually no rust in his return Monday night as the Celtics rolled to their sixth win in seven games. The Pacers have been inconsistent over the last two weeks, so I think Boston's talent wins out here. Take the Celtics (-120).

Point Spread: Indiana is a pedestrian 5-5-2 against the spread at home this season. The Celtics have won seven of their last games in Indiana and are well-rested after whupping the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pacers will put up a fight, but Celtics (-1) is the smart bet here.

Point Total: The Celtics boast the NBA's second-best defense. The Pacers are sixth. The total has gone under in nine of Boston's last 12 games and four of Indiana's last five games. Sign me up for the UNDER on the 209.5 point total.

Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 32-21-1

NBA Locks of the Night

Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors (+2.5): If I'm on the Raptors, I really want to beat Kawhi Leonard in his return to Toronto. The Clippers are 5-6 on the road this season, and it should be quite the hostile environment Wednesday. I'm backing the home team.

Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls (-5): The Hawks are coming off a brutal overtime loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday (Trae Young called game ... for the wrong team) and haven't won the second leg of a back-to-back yet this season. Chalk this up as a scheduled loss.

Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 20-15-1

Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers live stream: Watch NBA game online

Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers live stream: Watch NBA game online

The last time the Celtics faced the Pacers, Boston swept Indiana out of the playoffs with a four-game sweep, with each win coming by 10 points or fewer.

But this year's Pacers club is much different than last year's. Three of Indiana's top four scorers this season — Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren, and Jeremy Lamb — are in their first seasons with the Pacers.

Luckily for the C's, they won't have to contend with Victor Oladipo, who is currently on a rehab assignment in the G-League.

The Celtics are currently riding a four-game win streak and just got Gordon Hayward back in the lineup, while the Pacers are coming off an 11-point loss in Paul George's first game back to Indianapolis since joining the Clippers.

Be sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston for Celtics Pregame Live at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the game at 7 p.m. ET or stream it via the MyTeams app

HOW TO WATCH

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ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 6 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Chris MannixMike Gorman, Brian Scalabrine, Chris Forsberg, Tom Haberstroh, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

Questions on our livestream? Get all your questions answered here on our Streaming FAQ.

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