However, what had a much larger impact on the Celtics compared to a team meeting — both Sunday night and dancing — was the yield of Al Horford after a seven-game absence with a knee injury.
“There’s no issue about this.”
It was fitting which Horford made his return amid the hubbub about encounters, and along side the other starter, Marcus Morris, that also sat from the last two games with a knee difficulty. There’s not any more understated celebrity within the league — both in his own play on the court along with his conduct off of it and flying under the radar suits him just fine.
His impact on the Celtics, though, can not be over stated.
Horford has always been a player, going straight back to his very first days in the league with all an Atlanta Hawks greater than ten years past, who has full of whatever gaps his team has needed him . There is not any different in Boston, where Horford provides the Celtics with the elite passing and spacing at the center spot offensively — maybe never to mention marshaling a defense which once again ranks among the NBA’s best.
His presence was a big part of the reason the Celtics beat the Bucks Herein Boston on Nov. 1 — and it was no denying things were substantially different with no spacing the floor along with contorting Milwaukee’s defense Friday night. Ditto Boston’s command within the Philadelphia 76ers the past two years and why his returncoming on the eve of Boston’s re match with Philadelphia in a Christmas Day show down, couldn’t have come at a time so far as the Celtics are concerned.
“It is tough when there are many guys in and out of the lineup so lots of things [changing],” Horford said. “It puts a lot of pressure on a few of those men, and so that it’s only good we’re getting healthy. Marcus Morris being straight back, that’s huge for people, me back clearly. [Aron] Baynes is outside today but at least we have been becoming healthy again, so that is going to help our crime, and also help our team”
Kyrie Irving captures fire in the very first and drops 17 points against the Hornets.
You’ve been plenty of things contributing to Boston’s crazy swings back and on through the duration of this season up to now. Arguably the greatest, though, was Horford’s play. When he plays well — since he did in Boston’s rush to the verge of the NBA Finals last season without Kyrie Irving along with Gordon Hayward — the Celtics are a much different team. This season, though, he’s looked hampered with his balky kneewhich Boston tagged as patellofemoral pain killers throughout his recent seven-game hiatus.
To this end, possibly the one most crucial issue to come out of Sunday’s game wasn’t the triumph to snap some three-game losing glide, and even Horford playing well — he put up 10 points while earning every four shots he took to go with six rebounds and five assists in 19 minutes — however that he arose out of the game with his knee still feeling good.
“It was very helpful having that time off,” he explained. “I am only happy that I was able to really go around and play with a lot of energy. It’s just fantastic to return. Sitting on the sidelines is quite very tough, not being able to be to the court helping those guys.
“I am only happy to be back playing.”
The Celtics are equally as happy to own their security blanket at center back, too.
No match up will garner more scrutiny compared to Tuesday’s holiday match up with Embiid, though. After the Celtics, who beat Philadelphia in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, beat the Sixers back on opening night, Embiid announced that Boston can not be rival — because Philadelphia can not beat the Celtics.
“that is not just a competition,” Embiid stated. “I actually don’t understand our record against them, however it’s pretty bad.
“They always kick our ass.”
Horford was no small part of that success. He averaged 16.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 49 percent from the field and 41% from 3 against Philadelphia in four regular season games, and subsequently shot over 56 percent against the Sixers in Boston’s five-game chain victory.
Embiid, meanwhile, averaged 23 points from the show, but needed 2-1 shots per game to take action — that is what he did in Philadelphia’s season-opening decrease here between both teams.
“It is amazing,” Horford said of going up against Embiid. “I’ve a lot of admiration for Joel. I’ve been a big fan of the game, and just how he is. He is some guy that you want to watch play, and that I feel like you want him around you, right?
“It is some of the games that we have been lucky to become among the very few teams playing Christmas Day, and it is nationally televised. It’s some of the fun matches and we’re at home, so it’s fantastic for all of us “
What’s better for the Celtics is that they’ll possess Horford in your court for it. Whether Boston will keep things this way dancing would have a much greater impact with this team, and also its own season, compared to some other debate ever could.