Al Horford hasn't even been back from his concussion scare for a week yet and he's already doing some pretty epic stuff on the court. First of all, the Celtics are 3-0 since he's returned, and aside from a pair of very lackluster quarters against Minnesota on Monday they've looked like a completely different unit with him on the floor. They are much more balanced on both sides of the ball. Horford does a lot of things that don't even show up on the stat sheet. His presence on the defensive end will sometimes cause a would-be attacker to second guess, and he has the ability to switch and defend smaller defensive players, which is huge in Brad Stevens' system. He can score from the outside AND he is very good on the low block as well - he has to be accounted for no matter where he is on the floor.
All that said and he does a ton of stuff that does show up on the stat sheet, and in those last three games he's compiling numbers we haven't seen in Boston since we were still rolling with Larry Legend back in 1990:
.@celtics Al Horford with 3 straight games of 17+ points, 5+ rebounds, 5+ assists, 2+ blocks. Last Celtic to do that? Larry Bird (Jan., '90) pic.twitter.com/zRaWGL6VpR— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) November 24, 2016
Horford: 3 straight games with 17+ points, 5+ rebounds, 5+ assists, 2+ blocks— Max Lederman (@Max_Lederman) November 24, 2016
Last Celtic to do that: Larry Bird, January 1990 #CelticsTalk https://t.co/7oIK9Dsomz
Think about this for a second. In 26 years since Bird posted that stretch of games, no Celtic player has been able to replicate that kind of production in a three-game stretch. Although the C's struggled for most of the 90s and a had a tough stretch in the 00s - they've had some very talented power forwards since Larry left.
Say what you want about Antoine Walker but he was certainly capable of compiling those kind of stats and never was able to. He was a three-time All Star in green, and in his best statistical season (00-01) he tallied averages of 23.2 points, 8.9 boards, 5.5 assists and 0.6 blocks per game. Antoine was never known for his defense though, and he lacked consistency to maintain these Bird numbers over a series of games.
Being compared to Larry Bird for any stretch is good for business, obviously Horford is a much different player than Larry was, but he's similar in that he is a glue guy that can do just about anything well on the basketball court. He's not going to drop 60 points in a game a-la Bird, and he's never going to be heralded as an MVP candidate - but Al Horford can put the team on his back by consistenly doing a little bit of everything.
Photo Credit (in order) - Jim Bone/AP, Streeter Lecka/GETTY Images
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAL401 Mark Allison 11/25/2016 12:16:00 PM Tweet Edit