Kyrie Irving, Al Horford out for Celtics vs. Nets Saturday
Friday night, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford each logged 35 minutes — physical, hard-working minutes at that — in Boston’s dramatic last-second win against Indiana.
Saturday night they are both getting a rest.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Horford and Irving will be given the back-to-back off just a couple of weeks before the playoffs start. Officially, Irving will sit due to low back soreness while Horford is out due to knee soreness.
The Celtics may also be without Jayson Tatum due to an illness, he is questionable.
The Celtics have leaned on Horford and Irving all season, the most-used five-man lineup without either of them in it has played just 87 minutes all season long. Remove Tatum from the equation and it’s down to 76 minutes.
With Friday night’s Boston win, the Celtics and Pacers are tied for the 4/5 seed in the East at 45-31. Those teams are all but locked into those positions and will face off in the first round, the only question is which team will have home court.
Boston’s two best players getting the night off is a big break for a Brooklyn team that needs every win it can find right now.
The Nets, at 38-38, are currently the seven seed in the East, but just one full game ahead of the nine-seed Orlando Magic and falling out of the playoffs entirely. Only 1.5 games separate six-seed Detroit and nine-seed Orlando (with Miami currently the eighth seed, holding down the final playoff spot), and one of those teams is not going to have a chair when the music stops.
Brooklyn’s playoffs have essentially started, and it needs every win it can find and every break it can get. Boston’s sitting its stars is one of those breaks.