Horford's leadership and ball movement 'contagious' for Celtics

Horford's leadership and ball movement 'contagious' for Celtics

There was point in the first half when the Boston Celtics were in deep need of a shot to be made. 

Al Horford drained a long two-pointer, and then followed it up with a 3-ball. 

And in the second half when the Brooklyn Nets tied the game at 60, once again it was Horford who came up with a much-needed basket for the Celtics. 


“That takes some real stuff to be the guy that stops runs,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said following Wednesday’s game. “That’s a good thing.”

It certainly was for Boston as Horford once again helped pave the way for a Celtics victory as they pulled away in the second half for a 111-92 win. 

Horford continues to put up the kind of numbers that Celtics fans have not seen from a player in decades. 

He finished with 17 points, five rebounds, eight assists and two blocked shots – numbers he has reached in each of the Celtics’ last three games. 

The last time a Boston player had 17 or more points, five or more rebounds, eight or more assists and at least two blocked shots in three consecutive games, it was done by some guy named Larry Bird back in 1990. 

There were many who questioned why the Celtics offered up a king’s ransom for Horford, a four-time All-Star. 

But now that he’s back in the mix after missing nine games due to a concussion, the four-year, $113 million contract he signed with Boston looks like money well spent. 

You can count Avery Bradley among the Celtics players who appreciate all that Horford has brought to the floor for Boston this season. 

“Al can score the ball. But it’s all the little things that he does and how he gets the ball moving; it’s so contagious,” Bradley told reporters after the win. 

During time-outs, Bradley recalled how Horford would be on the players to keep the ball moving and they would respond accordingly. 

The Celtics have been among the NBA’s leaders in assists this season and following Wednesday's 26-assist night, they now find themselves ranked sixth in the league with a 23.8 assists per game average. 

“He’s a leader; he speaks up,” Bradley said of Horford. “Sometimes the ball sticks. For Al to say something and us actually go out and move the ball around and it starts with him, it means a lot.”

One of the keys to Horford’s success not only in the NBA but also with the Celtics, has been his willingness to continually focus on improvement not only for himself but also his teammates. 

Boston’s defense has been playing on an elite level the last few games, which isn’t all that surprising when you consider they began the season ranked near the bottom in several categories. 

But with that improved play, Horford is quick to acknowledge that he and the Celtics have room for significant improvement. 

“We can be good but right now we have to be better,” he told reporters after Wednesday’swin. “Transition defense is something we need to keep addressing. There needs to be a more sense of urgency from all of us.”

Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

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Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

There hasn't been all positive news surrounding Gordon Hayward as of late.

The Celtics have been shooting down rumors of Hayward returning this season. Recent news has detailed a minor setback in his recovery.

But it's always good to see the C's superstar up early crushing a workout in the weightroom.

We might not see him back in 2018, but his dedication during recovery is something to admire.


Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

AP Photo

Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

It seems all season we’ve talked about the Boston Celtics overcoming adversity, whether it be a bad injury to a key player or a blown assignment leading to a loss.

Nowhere is this more apparent than their play on the road this season which ranks among the best in the NBA.

The Celtics will look to continue on their road warrior-like ways tonight at New Orleans, a team that’s fighting for playoff position in the tighter-than-usual Western Conference.

In recent years, the terrain has been rough for teams from the East venturing into Western Conference territory.

For this year’s Celtics?

Not so much.

Boston comes into tonight’s game with a 17-7 record against Western Conference teams, tops among all teams in the East.

And while Boston has eight road games left this season, they are on pace to finish with one of the best road records in franchise history.

Currently 24-9 away from the TD Garden (tops in the East, third overall in the NBA), that’s a winning percentage of .727 which is the fourth-highest in franchise history.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on when the Boston Celtics take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.


It’s a given that Al Horford will spend time defending Anthony Davis tonight. And while Davis will likely have a strong night scoring the ball, you can count on Horford making it extremely tough on him. When the two teams met on Jan. 16, Davis was 8-for-19 shooting for 16 points in 52 possessions when defended by Horford. For the game, Davis had 45 points on 16-for-34 shooting.


We’ve seen “Playoff" Rondo and “National TV" Rondo deliver some impressive performances in the past. What will we see from “Well-Rested” Rondo? The Pelicans gave the ex-Celtic the night off on Saturday as to not play him in back-to-back games. Of the two games, it made sense to sit him against the Rockets and have him ready to roll against a Boston Celtics team that will not have its full complement of players available.


Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had some choice words about the officiating in New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday that he clearly felt cost his team a better chance at winning. The only cost in play now is how big will the check be that he’ll pay the league for his comments about the officiating. His issue was that Anthony Davis doesn’t get enough calls based on the physical abuse he takes per game. Davis ranks fourth in the NBA in free throw attempts (7.8) per game, but only had four attempts against the Rockets. It’ll be worth watching whether the Pelicans, 16th in the league in free throw attempts (21.4) per game, will get to the line significantly more or less than their season average.


One of the keys to Boston’s improved play since returning to the floor since the all-star break, has been their ability to begin games with strong play. Boston has outscored their opponent in the first quarter each of the last eight games, and 10 of 11. In addition, Boston has been ahead at the half in each of their 10 games since the all-star break, which comes on the heels of trailing at the half in the seven games prior to the break.


Jayson Tatum has been one of the most impactful rookies in the NBA this season which will likely land him a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie first or second team. One of the strengths of Tatum has been his durability, evident by him being one of just two first-year players to appear in each of his team’s games played this season. He is joined by Memphis’ Dillon Brooks.