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Al Horford plans on playing in back to backs this season

BOSTON -- Al Horford turned 36 in June, while he was still playing basketball in the NBA Finals. He's coming off the shortest offseason of his career, which followed the longest season of his career.

Such is life for someone who played all the way up to the final game of the season. But Horford isn't going to let last season's heavy workload affect his playing time in the 2022-23 season.

It was widely reported that Horford would be given a bunch of days off during his 16th NBA season, in an effort to keep him fresh for another long playoff run. But that no longer seems to be the case. At least it isn't when Horford discusses the matter.

At Monday's Media Day, Horford made it clear that he plans on another heavy workload this season, as the Celtics hope to make another run at an NBA title.

"I feel pretty good. After the long playoff run, I took some time off. Once we started to work, got after it pretty good to make sure that I prepare myself to have a full season," he said when asked about managing a shorter offseason. "I feel great physically. I really put in a lot of time this summer, just working on my game in the gym. Staying after it in that regard. For being ready for the group, being ready to go through the season and just preparing my body. Nothing different. I expect to have another season playing a lot of games and being ready when we reach the point of the playoffs."

The most logical "load management" days for Horford would have come during back to backs, which the Celtics have a dozen of this season. It's not unusual for veteran players in their mid- to late-30s to sit out at least one leg of those two-game stretches.

But Horford doesn't plan on sitting those out during the upcoming season. If the Celtics are playing, he plans on playing.

"As long as I prepare myself in the offseason to be in the position to play, that is what I'm about. I expect to be playing," he said.

When it was first reported that Horford would get some time off during the season, the Celtics were in a much better place with their depth chart. Danilo Gallinari wasn't lost for the season with a torn ACL, and all was still well in the land of Robert Williams, who is now expected to miss 8-12 weeks after undergoing anthropic knee surgery. 

Subtracting those two from the equation, the Celtics have only Horford, Grant Williams, and Luke Kornet as proven centers on the roster. So you can see why Horford is planning on playing as much as he needs to.

Horford played in 69 games during the regular season last year, averaging 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds over 29.1 minutes per contest. His workload increased over his 23 playoff games (he missed Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals while in Health & Safety Protocol), when Horford averaged 35.4 minutes per game. He played some of his best basketball in the postseason, averaging 12 points off 52.3 percent shooting to go with 9.3 rebounds per game. 

The Horford plan may change when Robert Williams returns and if Brad Stevens adds another reliable big body to the mix. But until then, the veteran plans to play as much as his team needs him.

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