Win vs. 76ers another example of Horford's stealth impact on Celtics

Win vs. 76ers another example of Horford's stealth impact on Celtics

BOSTON – Kyrie Irving was dominant as ever with 36 points in Boston’s 108-97 win over Philadelphia. Marcus Morris provided some major scoring punch off the bench with 17 points – one short of equaling his season high with the Celtics.
But lost in the success of Boston’s victory was the play of Al Horford, an all-too-common occurrence when it comes to the Celtics and their veteran big man.
Horford was once again having one of those stat-stuffing kind of nights, finishing with 21 points on an efficient 9-for-12 shooting. He battled around the rim and finished with eight rebounds. He was once again getting his teammates involved whenever he could, finishing with five assists, which was tops among Boston’s starters. He also blocked a couple shots and had a plus/minus of +10 which led all Boston starters.


The numbers don’t wow you, but they serve as yet another reminder of how stealth Horford’s impact can be on winning.
But make no mistake about it.
The play of Horford does not go unnoticed, especially by opponents.
Following the Sixers loss, Philadelphia’s J.J. Redick was asked about the 1-2 punch of Irving and Horford.
“Kyrie is obviously amazing, but Horford probably doesn’t get enough credit for how good he is offensively,” said Redick who had 17 points which included shooting 4-for-6 from 3-point range. “One of the reasons is because of the way he pops and sort of the problems that presents; whether that’s shooting threes, or attacking close outs, or catching and running into another pick and roll.”
The Sixers know all about Horford’s versatility.
When the two met earlier this season, Horford wound up defending Joel Embiid at various points in the game, and would later switch out and guard Ben Simmons who is the front-runner for the league’s Rookie of the Year award. He also managed a near double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Earlier tonight, Horford and the Celtics caught a break with Embiid (rest) not with the team.
But that still didn’t stop Horford from having to defend multiple players with varying levels of athleticism, quickness and size.
And Horford’s ability to do so effectively has been among the reasons why the Boston Celtics have been one of the best teams in the NBA this season.
“We were playing the Boston Celtics, the best team in basketball and I give them credit on doing some good things defensively,” said Sixers head coach Brett Brown.
And that defense, much like most of what the Celtics have done well this season, originates in large part by what Horford has brought to the game this season.
“As good as Kyrie is offensively, it’s almost like Horford is the sort of the hub of everything they do,” Redick said. “And because he’s so versatile, it creates all sorts of issues.”


Austin Ainge on confidence of Celtics heading into the season

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Austin Ainge on confidence of Celtics heading into the season

Austin Ainge talks with A. Sherrod Blakely about the confidence the Celtics have heading into the 2018 season, and we discuss what team we think Jimmy Butler will end up on. 

(2:00) Does Jimmy Butler wanting out of Minnesota make him look bad? (6:00) What team does Jimmy Butler end up with?

(11:00) Breaking down ESPN top 100 NBA players list, did they rank the Celtics correctly? (15:00) Would you rather have Jimmy Butler or Gordon Hayward?

(17:00) A. Sherrod Blakely talks with Celtics Director of Player Personnel Austin Ainge.

(17:30) How does Austin think Kyrie irving and Gordon Hayward will fit back in on the Celtics?

(25:00) How important was getting Marcus Smart back with the Celtics? 

(28:00) What are the Celtics thoughts on the 2019 draft?



What are some key intangibles to the Celtics having a great season?

What are some key intangibles to the Celtics having a great season?

BOSTON – Winning in the NBA is about more than just having better players or an awesome coach. There are factors that come into play, like scheduling, unexpected injuries by an opponent, or even a leaky roof.

All those factors fall under the category of intangibles, which for most of the top teams, aids them in their quest towards success.

The Celtics have a roster that on paper ranks among the NBA’s best. Still, for them to sustain the kind of success they're pursuing all season, they’ll need some other things to work out. 

So, what are some of those intangibles?


Former Celtics player, assistant coach and fan favorite Walter McCarty left the team last season to become head coach of his hometown’s college team, the University of Evansville. The rest of the coaching crew remains intact this season. Having that familiarity on the sidelines is a bigger deal than most people might think. Head coach Brad Stevens doesn’t have to worry about egos or how folks will mesh together among his staff. They’ve been around each other long enough to know how to work well, and effectively, with one another. Team harmony among coaching staff can only help foster a similar culture inside the locker room.


This too is one of the more overlooked aspects of the Celtics success, a franchise that on the basketball side of things has been run by Danny Ainge since 2003. His right-hand man, Mike Zarren, has done an exceptional job of maintaining the team’s salary cap flexibility and remains one of the more highly regarded NBA execs out there. The stability of those positions takes away some of the uncertainty that agents and players might have about the franchise and, more specifically, how they will be treated if they become Celtics.


The team’s new facility in Brighton, The Auerbach Center, won’t win them a single game. But there’s something about having a building that’s yours and yours alone, which is different than what they had in Waltham, Mass, in where their practice court was inside the Boston Sports Club. It breeds a greater sense of pride and ownership, two character traits you can’t have enough of in the NBA.  


They will still see him twice a year, but that’s so much better than four times a year plus the playoffs. Of course, Boston will still have to show up and handle their business against the teams in the East, and the NBA for that matter. But to know that their journey towards competing for an NBA title won’t have to involve dealing with James – his Cleveland team have eliminated Boston in the postseason three of the past four years – is a good thing for Green Teamers.


Win or lose, blowout win or beatdown loss, Celtics fans support this team in a way that has no end in sight. Crowds don’t take shots (on the court ones, at least). They don’t grab rebounds, either. But they can motivate and inspire players in ways that no amount of X’s and O’s can top. We have seen this team tap into that energy from time to time. And while it appears on paper they won’t need to as much this year, knowing that their fans have that to offer is reassuring to a team that so many fans – not just their own, either – expect to make a deep postseason journey that takes them back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2012.