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Al Horford out vs. Hornets; Jaylen Brown questionable for Celtics

BOSTON -- The Celtics have the best record in the NBA and with the team currently in the middle of a six-game homestand, Joe Mazzulla has the opportunity to manage the load on his players. He'll do that once again Monday night against the Hornets.

Jayson Tatum got the night off Sunday when the C's hosted -- and beat -- the Wizards at TD Garden. On Monday night, it will be Al Horford receiving an evening off from his head coach, getting a rest to deal with his lower back soreness. This will be the fourth game this season that Horford sits out, though don't fret too much about his back.

Forget that "lower back soreness" is pretty common for any 36-year-old, let alone one that has been playing in the NBA the last 16 years. Each of Horford's previous three missed games this season also came on the second leg of a back-to-back, as the team looks to manage the veteran big man any chance they can. 

Horford is still averaging 31.2 minutes over his 17 contests this season, his highest nightly average since the 2017-18 season. After he played in 69 regular-season games last season, he averaged over 35 minutes a night in the playoffs. If the Celtics want that kind of workload out of Horford come April, May, and June, it's in their best interest to get him these nights off in November and December.

He may not be the only one sitting out Tuesday's tilt, either. Jaylen Brown is fresh off a season-high 35 points against the Wizards, leading the charge in place of Tatum, but he may get the night off as well. Brown is listed as questionable for the game with "neck stiffness."

Brown has played in all but one game this season, averaging a career-best 26.1 points off a career-high 35.4 minutes per game. Like Tatum on Monday, he could probably use a night off considering his heavy workload a quarter of the way through the season.

And as they showed Sunday night, the Celtics don't seem to miss a beat when a player takes a break.

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