Thirty-two-year-old Al Horford, center for the Boston Celtics, has missed the team’s last three games with a persistent knee injury.
It’s unclear exactly how long he’ll be out, and the Celtics team is performing fine without him for now–they’re lucky to have depth at the center position with Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis in the lineup–but Horford’s return is nonetheless a point of concern as the team prepares for its playoffs push. He’s typically a starter for the team when he’s healthy, and is averaging 12.4 points per game when he’s on the floor. A 2007 draftee, he also brings a veteran presence to this young Boston team that has countless intangible benefits both on and off the court. They’re okay without him, but they’ll rather him be back sooner than later.
Horford’s Injury is Somewhat Day-to-Day
Celtics GM Danny Ainge recently commented that Horford technically could be playing right now, but the organization is playing it safe with him for now.
“We’re giving him the extra rest so that it’s not a lingering effect,” the Celtics Blog reported him as saying. “He could play now if he needed to, but we’re just trying to give him the rest to get back to being 100 percent.”
They played a similar strategy with power forward Marcus Morris last season. Morris, who is a key part of the team and a dominant scorer, missed much of the early 2017-2018 season, and then was spotty throughout as he focused on getting consistently healthy. It paid off, though. By the end of the season he was back at 100% and ready to help the team make its playoff push.
It’s likely that the Celtics are following that same plan with Horford. They’re clearly willing to be patient–in fact, they’re not willing to rush his recovery. This team is too important, and their desire and potential to win the East is the absolute focus.
Celtics Have the Momentum
The Celtics are blasting their way through the upper ranks of the Eastern Conference, and it’s about time. They’ve slogged through the early part of the season but are finally hitting their stride–tonight they’ll be looking for their eighth win in a row and they’re likely to get it.
They have plenty of breathing room to let Horford sit; Baynes and Theis are more than capable of holding down the fort, and rookie Robert Williams III is solid, too. Though Horford is one of the best all-around centers in the NBA, it’s nice that the Celtics have time to let him hit the floor when he’s ready to be exactly that. And they’ll certainly be needing him come playoff time. This conference is a war zone.