BOSTON (CBS) — It’s pretty clear that the Celtics are a much better team when Al Horford is on the floor.
In his four games back from a concussion, the Celtics are allowing just 96.5 points per game, going 3-1 in that stretch. The C’s are 5-2 overall when Horford plays this season after going 4-5 during his nine-game absence, allowing a startling 105.3 points per game during that stretch.
There was a lot of talk about whether or not Horford is a franchise-type player when the Celtics inked him to a four-year max deal over the summer, but C’s analyst Cedric Maxwell says all you need to do is look at the win-loss record when the big man is on the floor.
“Al Horford is that kind of guy who gets it done,” Max told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Sunday night’s edition of Sports Final. “Since he has been back, they’re able to galvanize themselves and play better as a team. He does all those small things — the essential things for you to win. He rebounds, and even though [Sunday] against San Antonio he didn’t shoot particularly well, the Celtics had opportunities when they went to old, steady Al.”
Horford has averaged 16.8 points and eight rebounds per game since his return, scoring the game-winning hoop against the Pistons his first game back before helping spark a remarkable 19-0 run by the C’s in a win in Minnesota last Monday. In addition to Horford, Jae Crowder has also returned after missing time with an ankle injury, allowing the C’s to get back to their defense-first mentality
Max did point out that Boston’s inability to consistently rebound will continue to hurt them, as they were out-boarded 55-42 in Friday’s 109-103 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
“You cannot give up second-chance opportunities,” said Max, adding that all of Boston’s bigs need to refocus their attention on crashing the glass. “Everybody has to rebound the basketball, and you do it as a team concept. Know that rebounding is about skill and desire to get there; the Celtics have to want it a lot more. You have to get a guy like Kelly Olynyk to get involved, or those guys to step up more and rebound the basketball because you cannot have your guards doing that. If this Achilles heel continues, the Celtics are going to start getting hurt.”
Check out the full segment in the video above to find out why Max calls Marcus Smart ‘The Predator’ and what he thinks of all the threes the team has been launching. Tune in to Sports Final and Sports Final OT every Sunday night at 11:35pm on WBZ-TV!