The Boston Celtics came up just short in a valiant comeback on the road against the top team in the Eastern Conference last night. The defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers were up by as many as 20 points before an unlikely comeback sparked by the Celtics bench got them back in the game. A 3-pointer from Jae Crowder with 8.4 seconds left in the game could've put the C's ahead in the final seconds, but it just missed the mark. A heartbreaking loss after such a great effort, but this game could've gone much different had the Celtics gotten a better performance from one of their most consistent producers, Al Horford.
Horford had undoubtedly his worst performance since donning the Celtic green. He finished last nights game with just 6 points and 1 rebound in 30 minutes on the floor. His usual 15 points and 6.6 rebounds a game was dearly missed by Boston, who looked to an unlikely lineup that consisted of Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller at the 4 and 5 throughout much of the 4th quarter to get them back in the game.
The Celtics were once again dominated on the glass (46-29), and although Horford isn't necessarily known for cleaning up on the boards, 1 rebound in 30 minutes of play is an abomination. As far as scoring goes, before last night Horford had scored in double figures in every game he'd played this season except two, but in both of those games he had double-digit rebounds. So it's safe to say that against Cleveland he had his worst overall game of the season.
Apparently, Horford's struggles against Cleveland go back a couple of years. A Cavs fan did a little research this morning and Al hasn't exactly fared well against Lebron and Co. in his last 12 matchups - including last years Atlanta Hawks getting swept in the playoffs:
Buddy.. Al Horford has now lost to the Cavs 12 straight games. He averages 12.75 PTS, 5.3 REB, 2.5 AST, and has 15 total FT in those games. pic.twitter.com/7GpTnpsAi5— Mourt Goldman (@Ryan_Mourton) December 30, 2016
Most players don't have a great record against Lebron (or whatever team he plays plays), but losing 12 games in a row is rough. Note that each of those statistics measured in the tweet (stats via Basketball-Reference.com) are all well below Horford's career averages.
The hot takes on Horford were ablaze on Twitter last night, and while I do expect him to raise his game when big games like that come along, it still only counts as one loss. The Celtics have fared well against a tough stretch of opponents and travel in the month of December, and last night was the second night of a back-to-back against the best in the league:
NBD, the Celtics traveled halfway around the Earth in December: pic.twitter.com/2Uk4cDTveL— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) December 30, 2016
Everyone is entitled to a bad game, and Boston has two more matchups with Cleveland this season - hopefully a playoff series down the line. So Big Al has plenty of chances to redeem himself before the season is over.
Related: The Boston Celtics come up short, losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-118
Photo Credit - Ken Blaze/USA Today
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAL401 Mark Allison 12/30/2016 05:03:00 PM Tweet Edit