As the Boston Celtics head down the stretch with only 9 games remaining before postseason play begins the team is healthy and hitting it's stride, and their prized acquisition from last offseason Al Horford is playing his some of his best ball in Celtic green:
Al(pha) Horford last 5 games: 18.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 6.2 apg, 2.0 bpg #CelticsTalk— Max Lederman (@Max_Lederman) March 23, 2017
Those numbers aren't including another solid performance last night against an overmatched Phoenix Suns team where he notched 15 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and a pair of steals while shooting 70% percent (7-10) from the field. Horford being in top form is of the utmost importance for the the Celtics to make a deep playoff push, and after struggling in the month of February he's currently playing some of the best ball of his entire career:
Al Horford's EFG%— Taylor C. Snow (@taylorcsnow) March 23, 2017
Feb '17 – 44.2%; worst single-month % of career
Mar '17 – 63.3%; best single-month % of career
How's that for improvement?
Coinciding with Horford's superb play in March the Celtics have some signature wins over Cleveland, Golden State, and Washington. Brad Stevens has been leaning more on Horford to score as of late, as he tries to stagger Al with Isaiah Thomas keeping at least one of them on the floor for the majority of games. When the Celtics 2nd-unit comes into the game Horford becomes the focal point on offense, and that is big part of his uptick in scoring of late.
When the game slows down in the playoffs the Celtics will have to rely more and more on Horford in the half-court offense. Since the All-Star break Horford has been taking more efficient shots than earlier in the year. He's shooting less three-pointers - 1.9 per game as opposed to the 4.7 he was shooting before the break - and hitting them with more efficiency. He's averaging 38.5% while taking less attempts as opposed to the 35.1% he was shooting previously from deep. Horford has gotten back to playing with his back to the basket more and by getting more efficient attempts as he's shooting nearly 10% better overall since returning from the break - 54.9 to the 45.1 percent he was hitting prior.
While Horford may not be a juggernaut in the points column of the box score most nights he's a huge cog that makes the Celtics offensive engine roll. The more efficient he is scoring the more attention he draws from the opposing defense and that opens up both shooters for the C's - which Horford is great at finding - and it keeps the floor spaced affording Thomas room to operate getting to the bucket.
With just a few weeks until the playoffs begin Al Horford and the C's are rolling at just the right time.
Stats via NBA.com
Photo Credit - Celtics.com
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAL401 Mark Allison 3/25/2017 01:57:00 PM Tweet Edit