The Boston Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards 123-111 at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon. The Wizards got off to a 16-0 lead. The Celtics battled back and cruised in the second half. There were many big contributors to the Celtics win. Isaiah Thomas had 33 points and 9 assists. Jake Crowder had, perhaps, his best all-around playoff game in a Celtics uniform with 24 points and 6 rebounds. The player who doesn’t really see the spotlight and actually gets the brunt of heat when the team doesn’t do well is Al Horford. Why? Well, he signed a max contract in the offseason which makes his expectations to be that of a max player. Does Horford put up max player numbers?
Take a look at the below stat line.
These are Al Horford’s numbers over the first seven games of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Pretty good, huh? No, his scoring doesn’t stand out. That’s not who he is. He’s a solid around player who can impact multiple phases of the game, but will never take the game over. We get it. For a max contract, a player should be able to take over a game. However, what Horford brings to the team is something that most players cannot which is helping the team in multiple ways aside from scoring.
In fact, here’s a list of players who have averaged more than 16 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and have a FG% over 60%. in the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
That’s right. Not Westbrook. Not Lebron. Not James Harden. One could make the argument that Al Horford has been the most efficient player in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. No, not the best player, but the most efficient player.
Defense is not included in these numbers and Horford makes a tremendous impact on the defensive end. He plays good help D. He does a pretty good job in the low post against players who are usually bigger than he is. Horford does a little bit of everything and it often isn’t noticed.
Do you know what is noticed? Great scoring, shooting, and fourth quarter play. This is what Isaiah Thomas brings to the table. Thomas is a Top Five scorer in the league. He can create his own shot as well as any player in the NBA. This is a weapon that not many teams have. Most Celtics fans would tell you that Thomas is the team’s best player. With that said, what many fans don’t realize is how much a defensive liability Thomas is. It’s certainly not because his effort level. However, it’s very obvious who team’s are going to go after when they set up their game plan. Isaiah is still a great fit for the Celtics, but he’s not their best overall player.
Seven games into the playoffs, many Celtics fans are beginning to come around on Al Horford. He’s not flashy. His shot is ugly. But, he does multiple important things that win basketball games.
There aren’t many players in the NBA who are as balanced as Al Horford.