Horford: 'I'm starting to feel more like myself again'

Horford: 'I'm starting to feel more like myself again'

BOSTON -- Al Horford sat on the Boston Celtics bench, just a few hours from tip-off against Golden State which is once again one of the elite teams in the NBA.
It’s the kind of matchup that Horford has longed to be a part of since signing his four-year, $113 million contract with the C's.
But that’s as close as Horford will get to seeing action tonight due to still being in the league’s concussion protocol program which he entered on Nov. 2.
During an exclusive interview with CSNNE.com, Horford opened up about how dealing with a concussion has been an eye-opening experience on many levels.
“It’s definitely tough,” he told me just prior to Friday’s game. “This whole time in general has been hard for me. Just because I’m learning like everybody else is about having a concussion. I never thought it was something that, that serious. But now I’m finding out. It’s really made me be more patient; I have to be.”
That said, Horford said he’s finally feeling the light at the end of the tunnel which he believes will be a return to the court soon -- as early as Saturday’s game at Detroit. Horford and Jae Crowder (ankle) will make the trip.
“I’m finally at the point where … I'm starting to feel more like myself again,” he said.
And that’s the thing that most people on the outside don’t understand about concussions.
Concussions are very different than ankle injuries or strained ligaments in that no two concussions are the same.
And while there are a number of hoops and hurdles players must go through in order to be cleared to play again, more than anything else the player has to feel comfortable with his body being able to do what it did pre-concussion.
Horford acknowledged that has been one of the bigger challenges he has had to overcome during his recovery.
And nights like tonight don’t make it any easier for him, knowing the Celtics (6-5) are playing one of the best teams in the NBA and he can do nothing but watch.
When the Celtics signed him to the most lucrative contract in franchise history, they did so with the intent that he would be an integral part of their success against teams like the Warriors.
And part of his decision to sign with the Celtics during the free agency period was to be part of the team’s growth and ascension, inching closer to being among the game’s elite teams -- teams like the Golden State Warriors.
“With this one here, it’s killing me,” Horford said. “More than anything I just want to be out there with the guys. It’s hard to watch the games.”
The 6-foot-10 big man has appeared in just three games this season for the Celtics, averaging 12.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists.

Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

With Kyrie Irving undergoing a “minimally invasive procedure” on Saturday, the Boston Celtics may look to add a player via the “hardship roster exception” that only teams that are significantly impacted by injuries, are eligible for. 

MORE - Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

The Celtics won’t have a clear sense of what the timetable will be for Irving’s return until after his procedure is performed. 

But it’s likely to be at least a couple weeks which at the earliest would put Irving’s return just before the playoffs. 

In order to qualify for the NBA’s hardship roster exception, at least four players must miss a minimum of three consecutive games, and later be deemed to be out for an additional two weeks. 

Gordon Hayward (dislocated left ankle) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus, left knee) are out for the season, and Marcus Smart (right thumb) recently underwent surgery that will keep him sidelined for at least another five weeks. 

An independent doctor will determine if the extent of the aforementioned injuries as well as the recovery time for Irving, meet the two-week criteria to be eligible for the hardship roster exception. 

Once that’s determined, Boston will be given a hardship roster exception to use on a player for the remainder of the regular season but won’t be eligible for the postseason. 

If Boston does add a player, look for him to come from the Gatorade League, possibly their G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. 

Boston has a collection of guards who have helped fill the void left by Irving’s absence, but Boston has not been able to address the loss of Daniel Theis. 

Keep an eye on former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 16.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Red Claws this season. 

MORE - Hayward gives update on rehab

Boston has a 45-day cap on the use of its two-way players with the parent team, but that limitation ends tomorrow which means guard/forward Jabari Bird and guard Kadeem Allen can earn the league minimum for every day they are with the Celtics going forward in the regular season. That can provide some depth to a Celtics team that because of injuries, can use every healthy body they can find.


Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Kyrie Irving could be back on the court in time for the Celtics to begin the playoffs.

Or not.

Irving will have what the Celts are describing as a "minimally invasive procedure" on his injured left knee Saturday. NBC Sports Boston talked to Dr. Christopher Chihlas from Southcoast Health -- who has not examined Irving but is familiar with his type of injury -- about how long Irving may be sidelined.

"A minimally invasive procedure is basically an arthroscopy," said Dr. Chihlas. "His return to play is mostly dependent on what is done . . . If it's just a cleanout, as we're being told, then -- best-case scenario -- we could see him back playing in three to four weeks."

But, he added, "it could be double that . . . depending upon what exactly is found . . . 

"The key here is the patella fracture (which Irving suffered during the 2015 playoffs). My feeling is that he's suffering a bit of the consequence of the patella fracture, which is a fracture into the knee joint . . . [He] may need to have this done periodically to get him through the rest of his career."