Boston Celtics: ‘Average Al’ Horford playing big time elite

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 11: Al Horford /

Boston Celtics center Al Horford has turned up his game in a big way in the early part of the 2017-18 season.

There has been nothing “average” about Al Horford to begin the 2017-18 season.  The Boston Celtics big man has stepped up in a major way to help a young team that started off the first minutes of the season losing one of their big stars.

The seldom mentioned third part of the Celtics new big three, Horford’s play over the first seven games of the season has helped the team move on from the loss of Gordon Hayward.  His scoring is up, his leadership has been monumental and the chemistry he is forming with Kyrie Irving has elevated his inside-outside game big time.

Highlighted by a 27-point performance in Milwaukee last Thursday night, Al Horford has scored in double digits and has increased his rebounding during the team’s current five-game winning streak.  So far this season he is averaging 15.0 points and 9.4 rebounds.

BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 24: Kyrie Irving
BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 24: Kyrie Irving /

Still not elite numbers, but combine that with his passing ability along with what he provides defensively and the Celtics have a big-time player who is now showing his max contract worth.

Related Story: Why Al Horford is team’s most valuable player

The defensive presence

Following that game against the Bucks, Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens praised Horford more for what he did on defense than the 27-point explosion.  He showed off his versatility in guarding the man known as the Greek freak.

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"“He was great on both ends of the floor.  He guarded Giannis a large part of the night and I thought he did a great job on him,” Stevens said, via WBZ.  “Then, obviously there were the big threes at the end of the third and then the big tip-in going into the fourth.  That gave us a little big of momentum.”"

As one of four remaining players returning from the 2016-17 version of the Celtics, Horford has settled into his role nicely.  Of course, playing alongside a player like Kyrie Irving has heightened that comfort.

In fact, the ball movement between those two have been beautiful to watch.  Both players have fed off one another in a way that has Boston Celtics fans drooling about the “what if’s” had Gordon Hayward never broke his tibia in the early minutes of a promising season.  A promising season that has now been revived by the play of the forgotten man who somehow earned the nickname of “Average Al.”

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There is nothing average about a versatile big man who can help a team win in all facets of the offense and defense.  The scary part is, the Horford and Irving chemistry will only improve as the season progresses.