Celtics shutting down Horford (knee) for a few games

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Boston Celtics are shutting down big man Al Horford for a few games with a goal of strengthening a bothersome left knee that’s limited his availability recently.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Horford is dealing with patellofemoral pain syndrome and the team is hoping to give him some extended rest in hopes of strengthening the knee and preventing the issue from lingering deep into the season.

"Al’s going to be out probably a few games, just to kinda get this thing feeling a lot better,” Stevens said Wednesday morning at the team’s shootaround on the campus of Georgetown University. “He’s going to be out a little bit but not too long, and just to strengthen and get feeling a lot better. A little bit similar to [Marcus] Morris last year and make sure that he feels great instead of going back and forth like this.”

Horford admitted to seeing the bigger picture in downshifting now in hopes of having him upright when the games matter most later in the year.

“This is something that I don't think any of us want it to linger or continue, and I think that, as much as I want to be on the floor, I do see the big picture,” said Horford. "So this is the time to do it.”

What will he do during the downtime?

"Just a lot of, besides the soft tissue, a lot of strength work and just really diving into that,” said Horford. “Obviously, we've got a great staff, and that's like the first step until I start getting on the court and doing more things.”

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The good bit of injury news for the Celtics is that Kyrie Irving said his shoulder is fine and he will be back in the starting lineup against the Wizards after sitting out Monday’s win over the Pelicans.

“Feel good,” said Irving. "Just to give it a day of rest. … I think we have a few days off coming off this three-game span that we have, but it’s not too often you get a day to just rest, so, I’ll take it.”

Irving said he had no further imaging on his shoulder and simply took the time to rest after tweaking the AC joint in his right shoulder last week against the Knicks.

A six-game winning streak might have made it easier to give the likes of Irving and Horford rest, but the Celtics are getting chomped on by the injury bug at the moment. Neither Gordon Hayward (illness) nor Guerschon Yabusele (ankle) made the trip to DC, while Aron Baynes (ankle) was going to go through shootaround Wednesday to gauge if he could return to action.

If Baynes is out, the Celtics are mighty shorthanded up front and will continue to lean heavy on Daniel Theis and Robert Williams.

"Well we don’t have a lot of depth at the 5 if Baynes can’t play,” said Stevens. "Baynes is going through our workout and we’ll see. But I’d say that he’s, at the very best, questionable. We do not have a lot of depth there but we have two good players in Daniel and Rob that can fill minutes. Obviously having three guys out at that position is pretty unique.”

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