Celtics

Horford helps Celtics get back on track

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Horford helps Celtics get back on track

Aggressive Al Horford was on the floor Friday night for the Boston Celtics, a good sign for a Celtics team that has been battered by injuries. 

As the oldest member of the team, the 31-year-old’s leadership has to become more example-driven as well as existing in the spoken word.

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Horford was on point for most of Friday’s 92-83 win over Orlando, a game that was far more lopsided in Boston’s favor than the final score might indicate.

The 6-foot-10 forward/center had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. 

What was more telling was that Horford took a team-high 18 shots from the field, as clear a sign as you will find that Horford’s mindset on Friday was to attack Orlando’s defense early and often. 

And while it’s true that the Magic are one of the worst teams in the NBA, that doesn’t diminish the way Horford executed the plays called by head coach Brad Stevens as Horford played the role of primary scorer more often than usual, instead of being a major facilitator.

Having missed Boston’s previous two games, Horford was admittedly concerned if the lay-off might affect his conditioning. 

“Wind-wise I felt good,” Horford told reporters after Friday night’s win. “A little rusty on offense. But defensively I felt great. I felt our team came out with energy; just a good win.” 

A win that became a lot easier to get with Aggressive Al on the floor. 

 Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in Boston’s 92-83 win over Orlando.

 

STARS

Terry Rozier: He continues to provide the Celtics with really solid guard play, with all-star guard Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) missing. Rozier had a game high-tying 17 points along with seven rebounds and five assists. 

Greg Monroe: The third quarter was when Monroe really began to take over the game. He finished with 17 points, 10 of which came in the third. 

Shelvin Mack: Not a lot to cheer about for Mack and the Magic who once again struggled in so many phases of the game. But Mack still managed to score 16 points. 

 

STUDS

Al Horford: Having missed the two previous games, Horford was back in full force on Friday. He had 15 points on 6-for-18 shooting to go with nine rebounds

Boston rebounding: The Celtics control of the glass began from the outset and never really eased up. For the game, Boston grabbed 55 rebounds compared to just 40 by Orlando. 

 

DUDS

Fourth-quarter Celtics: The only real blemish on an otherwise impressive performance by Boston, was the team’s overall play in the fourth quarter. Boston was outscored 31-17 and turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter. 

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Stevens: Marcus Smart 'feeling great,' will play in Game 5

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Stevens: Marcus Smart 'feeling great,' will play in Game 5

BOSTON — Barring an unexpected setback, all indications are that Marcus Smart will make his postseason debut tonight against Milwaukee.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart did some 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 work following Boston’s morning shoot-around and came out of it “feeling great.”
 
Smart has been out with a surgically repaired right thumb injury since March.
 
“He hasn’t played in six weeks, so it’s hard to say how much (time he will get) but will certainly play,” Stevens said.
 
Stevens said there would not be a minutes restriction on him, but added that the fourth-year guard wasn’t going to play 35 minutes.
 
Smart averaged 29.9 minutes in 54 games played this season, along with 10.2 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds.
 
Even before Stevens acknowledged Smart would play tonight, the Bucks began planning for him to play as soon as Smart's status went from being “out” to “questionable” on Monday. 
 
“We know how he plays, we know how he plays within their system,” said Milwaukee interim head coach Joe Prunty. “He’ll definitely add an element for them. If he does play, we’re prepared for that.”
 
In an interview with NBC Sports Boston, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton made it clear that the Bucks weren’t going to treat Smart any different, knowing he hasn’t played in nearly six weeks. 
 
“He’s still been working,” Middleton told NBC Sports Boston. “You can’t disrespect him just because he hasn’t played in a while. You have to play him like he’s been playing all year long or this whole series, which is, get after him some too.”
 
Bucks center Thon Maker added, “He does a good job for them at both ends of the floor, by defending and on offense, moving the ball, facilitate a lot on the offensive end for them. With us, we have to find a way to match his energy if he does play tonight.”