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Category Archives: Al Horford

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Recap: Celtics pull wings off Hornets and eat them to snap losing streak

This game was as close to a true must-win as the Boston Celtics have had this season thus far, because four straight losses gets to be A Thing, and not just in the alarmist Boston sports media landscape. Playing a defensive-minded Charlotte Hornets team also served as a dress rehearsal for the true test against Philadelphia coming on Christmas Day.
After a closely fought duel in the first frame between Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker, Boston began pouring on the punishment from both ends of the floor in the second and didn’t look back. The final winning score, 119-103, wasn’t remotely reflective of the beatdown they unleashed against the Hornets in a much-needed, well-executed team win.
Kyrie started off on a breakneck kick, with seven of Boston’s nine unanswered points in the opening minutes en route to 17 in the quarter (and 25 for the game). But the primary reason for the Celtics’ success was—BRACE YOURSELF FOR THIS SHOCKING REVELATION—returning to lineup arrangements that fueled the 8-game win streak.
There now exists too much evidence to downplay the potency of the Irving/Smart/Tatum/Morris/Horford starting five, as well as the success Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward have off the bench. (I’ve given the latter a hard time in some moments, but he’s accepted the benching without an iota of public complaint and continues to show assorted signs of resurgence, like a strong two-handed dunk in that second quarter.) Other points:

The Celtics forced Kemba Walker to work mostly alone, with Jeremy Lamb offering the only other meaningful offensive contributions. (Part of that is Charlotte’s clunky roster, but Kemba aside, they played massively out of whack by any standard.)
That 2nd quarter was the Cs’ highest-scoring frame of the season, with 39 points. At times, the lead eclipsed 30 points.
Team rebounding looked more like what it should be, a mercy after two brutal humiliations and the creator of many second-chance field goals in this game.
Horford looks like his old self and proved once again how, in many ways, he is the stabilizing spine of this Celtics team.
But Marcus Morris is currently one of this team’s most consistent two-way players, and deserves plenty of credit for bringing his own brand of muscle to the starting lineup.
Jayson Tatum continues his low-key murder streak with another 17-point performance.

Just small points:

Hayward’s shooting is still incredibly inconsistent.
Brown got in unfortunate early foul trouble that limited his playability and shot poorly, in the precise inverse of his Milwaukee performance.
Also, his attempt at a lob to the Timelord…did not go well. (Couldn’t find video, or this’d be in the section below.)

Williams’ face, in particular, after the Hayward slam is hysterical:
The aforementioned Hayward jam:
Kyrie gunning:
Uncle Al and Kyrie working their magic:
For posterity, just felt like I couldn’t not include this beautiful image:

Box score

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Hospital Celtics return; Al Horford to miss multiple games

What remains of the Boston Celtics are in Washington to take on the Wizards tonight. Once again, the Celtics will be undermanned.

#NEBHInjuryReport Gordon Hayward (illness) and Guerschon Yabusele (ankle) have both been ruled out for tonight’s game.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 12, 2018

The bigger news is that Al Horford will once again miss action due to pain in his left knee. According to Brad Stevens, Horford was diagnosed with Patellofemoral pain syndrome in his left knee. That is a long, ominous sounding thing, but it’s really very common. Chances are you a few of you reading this (and definitely one of us writing this) has it.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain at the front of your knee, around your kneecap. Sometimes called “runner’s knee,” it’s more common in people who participate in sports that involve running and jumping.
The knee pain often increases when you run, walk up or down stairs, sit for long periods, or squat. Simple treatments — such as rest and ice — often help, but sometimes physical therapy is needed to ease patellofemoral pain.
As a long-time sufferer of patellar tendonitis and Patellofemoral pain syndrome, I can tell you that taking the time now to treat this and focus on his recovery is well worth it. It’s not necessarily an injury like taking a wrong step and straining something. It’s an overuse injury that causes inflammation and discomfort. Steps to reduce inflammation (ice, NSAIDs) and strengthening of the quadriceps will help take pressure off that tendon. They may also give him some kind of wrap to wear on his knee to also reduce pressure.
If it’s not treated, it can linger and sap some explosiveness. At the same time, the pain can be managed so if this returns come playoff time, I’d think Horford could play through it with an added treatment regimen. It really is prudent to take time off in December, especially against weaker opponents and with the Celtics depth, to attack this and get the knee right.
Of course, the plus side to this is…
© Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Kyrie Irving is not on the injury report. He says his shoulder is sore but he’ll play.

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Recap: In which the Magic pester the Celtics into a loss like a long-armed mosquito swarm

The Orlando Magic are the bane of my existence. They haunt me. I loved Penny Hardaway as a kid, and then he got injured and was never the same, and Shaq went to L.A. (I didn’t get to appreciate Grant Hill. Fuck Dwight Howard and fuck Hedo Turkoglu. Just because.)
Also, I find myself not infrequently writing about them, because they also appear to haunt the Boston Celtics. The Cs have given up first halves or entire quarters to this hapless, permanently rebuilding, shell-of-its-former-self, education-destroying-DeVos family-owned squad before getting themselves together and winning (14 of the last 15 home games vs. Orlando have been wins). This time, they didn’t, losing 93-90 in a contest far worse for the Celtics than those final numbers would suggest.
No getting around this: The Magic kicked the Celtics’ asses for the entire first quarter of this contest. Boston’s defense was a perfect crapstorm of disorientation and sloppiness, which stemmed in large part from Orlando’s clear size advantage against an Aron Baynes-less Boston, which Nikola Vucevic exploited to a T. The offense was poor as well, even with a last-second recovery off a Terry Rozier triple to make the frame margin a not-entirely-embarrassing 28-19. It easily could’ve been way worse.
Kyrie Irving is no longer wearing his headband, and because I am an inveterate lover of the occult, I choose to assign this choice credit for his notably improved performance in the second frame. His scoring game is clearly not where it should be, and he knows that; I’m sure it’s driving him just as nuts as the most vocal fans. But he started slow as a scorer last year, too, before getting into rhythm with this team. If he’s at like, 17 points per game in two months, then we get worried.
In any event, Kyrie removed the headband and decided he wanted to live in Marcus Smart’s shoes for a while. This was to excellent effect, as he began diving for loose balls, stealing aggressively and generally looking angrier. Combined with serious all-around effort from Al Horford, Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart, the Celtics came back with much more commitment on both sides of the ball and brought themselves within three of the Magic at the half—48-45 with 24 minutes left.
Magic power forward Jonathan Isaac is clearly attempting to take up the mantle of A.C. Green with his fervent interest in pro-abstinence education. All things being equal, this is an opinion Isaac is 100 percent welcome to have, but I have jokes to write and I’m displeased by the final result of this game. To wit: Is Isaac dunking and fiercely rebounding as an expression of his anti-sexual asceticism? Moreover, does he know about the satanist, alcoholic Magic fan who once threw a spent bottle of liquor at stalwart emo-revival band You Blew It! Have they both bathed in the blood of the lamb?
In all seriousness: Isaac was a big part of why Boston ended up taking the L tonight, as his truly impressive wingspan facilitated a ton of Orlando rebounds, blocks, deflections and general defensive obstructions. Between him, Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Mo Bamba, the Magic were able to take full advantage of their one unadulterated strength, and the Celtics had no clear answer for it. If not for a burst of intensity on both sides of the ball (one that still ended up being too little too late) and a strong second-half showing by Kyrie, this easily could’ve been a blowout. No doubt, the Cs have plenty of adjustments to make in practices and games to come if they want to be a title contender for reasons beyond a conference default.
Every once in a while, Kyrie does an almost-dunk:

Kyrie with the hangtime! pic.twitter.com/D6t9Hziwx3
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 23, 2018

GH’s shot seems to be improving:

Hayward from the corner for his third 3-pointer of the night! pic.twitter.com/foLiDcLhxS
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 23, 2018

If the Celtics had played like this all night, they easily would’ve won. Fantastic ball movement:

Solid ball movement gets Marcus Smart open for the trey! pic.twitter.com/nuu7TYjR6i
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 23, 2018

Box score

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Harnessing the Boston Celtics firepower still a work in progress

The following is an excerpt from my subscription Patreon site. 
When Will Smith’s “Agent J” fires the “Noisy Cricket” for the first time in Men In Black, the recoil sends him flying into a wall, into the trash, and through a windshield. He has no idea how to handle that kind of firepower.
Sort of like the 2018-19 Boston Celtics. All five starters are capable of going off for long stretches, entire games, or even days at a time. Harnessing that has been tough, though, and figuring out how to handle that kind of firepower isn’t always easy.
Does that not work for you? Let me put this another way.
Flowing water is powerful but it will always find the path of least resistance. It will keep going downhill in the fastest and easiest way possible.
Sort of like the 2018-19 Boston Celtics. At least the starters.
Those starters are so good that they don’t need to work hard for good shots. Why pass, pick, and cut when one of these guys invariably has a one-on-one matchup that can be exploited? It’s so easy to find the mismatch and pick on it over and over.
No matter how you put it, the Celtics have not had the best offense in the preseason.
“The best way I can put it,” says Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, “we’re far from a finished product. And that’s a good thing.”
What’s not good is the current state of the offense. Be it lack of concern, effort, or execution, the Celtics are nowhere near where they want to be. The question heading into tonight’s regular season opener is how quickly can they get it together.
You can go to my Patreon site to read the rest. A subscription costs only $2 a month and you can count on multiple pieces per week. Free Celtics content will still appear here. 

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