Three Celtics Things as the Boston Celtics gear up for a first-round matchup with the Indiana Pacers.
Thing 1: Al Horford is still the most important player for the Boston Celtics
Celtics nation was worried about Al Horford for a bit. He looked out of sorts, and the impact was visible. He was the most important player for the Celtics last season, but the Celtics were 1.6 points per 100 possessions better with him off the court before the All-Star break this season. We thought maybe he’d lost a step.
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Yeah, nope. Since the All-Star break, the Celtics are 17.3 points per 100 possessions better with Horford on the court than when he’s off.
The offense and defense both fall completely apart without him. When he’s healthy, his versatility and IQ are still the factors that unlock this Celtics team.
Horford looked fantastic against the Indiana Pacers. He demanded the ball in the post when he had mismatches, and drove the lane when the Pacers gave it to him. He also had a pretty sweet looking block in transition.
The Celtics are the best version of themselves when Horford plays with that aggression. He didn’t have it early in the season, whether because of injury or just because the team was struggling to find its way.
But he’s upped his scoring average every single month. His 15.8 ppg average over his last 16 games (on close to 60% shooting from the field and over 40% from deep) has been a huge boon to a team still cementing its identity. If he can stay dialed in, it’ll help the Celtics survive the injury bug.