WALTHAM, Mass. -- While with the Atlanta Hawks, Al Horford and Paul Millsap formed one of the NBA’s better frontcourt tandems.
But as well as they played together, Horford, now with the Boston Celtics, said it took a while before the two started to really mesh.
Horford believes the same will hold true for him and Amir Johnson despite the early returns showing the two will make a nice 1-2 frontline punch for the Celtics.
“It’s a work in progress,” Horford said prior to Tuesday’s practice. “For Paul and I to really get clicking, it took us a long time.”
That’s why he’s more than willing to wait for the chemistry to come along with Johnson.
“I’m not rushing it,” Horford said. “I’m trying to feel Amir out, see how he plays.”
One area in which both Horford and Johnson should benefit from having the other is passing.
Last season Horford ranked fifth among centers in the NBA with 3.2 assists per game. In addition, he made 3,894 total passes, which was second in the league among centers to Chicigao's Pau Gasol (4,082).
Not surprisingly, interior passing has been a topic of discussion between Horford and Johnson.
“I always talk to him about us passing the ball inside,” Horford said. “The big thing for us to keep communication. The more comfortable I get with the system, the easier it’ll be for all of us.
Prior to arriving in Boston, Horford was well aware of the leadership qualities Boston already had in Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.
But it was only after spending time with the Celtics did he realize that Johnson is one of the team’s most important leaders, too.
“He’s one of the leaders in this locker room, the type of guy that you want to play alongside with; plays really hard," Horford said. "He’s really about the team. I’ve been really impressed with him and his leadership on the team.”
The two have played together in two of Boston’s three preseason games, with Stevens giving both players as well as Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley the night off when Boston played Sacramento.
In the two games they have played together, Horford has averaged 11.5 points and 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 points and 4.5 rebounds.
“It’s coming along,” Johnson told CSNNE.com recently. “The good thing is we’re both unselfish players so that should help speed things up. But we’ll be fine. It won’t be long before we’re on the same page all the time.”