Among all the hoopla surrounding Robert Williams III’s injury status for the upcoming playoff series between the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets, something that has not been talked about enough is the status of Al Horford. Since no one knows the exact date of Williams’ return, his absence means there will be a lot more responsibility for Horford to shoulder this upcoming postseason. That may not be too welcome for Horford since he is 35 years old and has dealt with back soreness in recent weeks. Luckily, Horford says he’ll be more than ready for the tough road ahead health-wise thanks to the rest he’s had.
Outside of two bouts with COVID-19 earlier in the year, Horford has largely remained healthy in his first season back with the Celtics. The 69 games he’s played for Boston this year are largely the same number of games he played the previous three seasons he played in his first go-round in Boston – 68, 72, 68.
Even his minutes per game average has largely remained the same in spite of splitting time with Robert Williams III, Grant Williams, Daniel Theis, and Enes Freedom. His 29.1 minutes per game is actually around the same number of minutes he played in his last season in Boston, 2018-19, where he averaged 29 minutes exactly.
Celtics’ Personnel and Players Praise Horford for his Impact
In one of their latest videos that the team has released on their official Twitter account, Celtics personnel sang Al’s praises for his efforts in how well the Celtics’ season turned out. Head coach Ime Udoka in particular pointed out how vital Al’s versatility and IQ serve on the defensive end.
“We wouldn’t be allowed to do what we do defensively without him,” Udoka said. “The versatility, a true four-man that can guard Embiid, Jokic, and those guys, but also switch onto guards is invaluable for what we’re trying to do, and he’s a big piece of that.”
Point guard Marcus Smart later added that Al’s experience and calm demeanor have made an impression on the team whenever they’ve been put in high-stakes situations, even if he doesn’t have much to say.
Horford Laughs Off Bruce Brown’s Comments
First, Ime Udoka directly addressed the Nets’ guards’ comments head-on. Then, Daniel Theis said he’ll let his play on the court do the talking when the Celtics face off against the Nets. Now, after being asked about Brown’s well-known comments from a few nights back Horford actually laughed it off while echoing Theis’ sentiments about letting his play speak for itself in his pretty brief response.
“I’m excited to get going tomorrow,” Horford said. “My stuff gets done on the floor. We’re looking forward to the challenge as a whole.”
Horford clearly did not have much to say on the matter, but is clearly looking forward to showing Bruce Brown what he’s made out of both tomorrow and throughout the rest of the series.
Brown better be ready to back his talk up because he’s going up against a Celtics frontcourt who, Timelord or no, has Horford, whose presence on the court helped the defense allow 2.9 fewer points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor, and Theis, whose presence on the court helped the defense allow 4.3 fewer points per 100 possessions.