Al Horford's questionable status - against Warriors Wednesday, and in some circles, as a max player

Al Horford may miss one of the most important games of the Boston Celtics' season when they play the Golden State Warriors this Wednesday, which will probably raise the whispers surrounding his max-level deal's value grow into a shout should it happen.

Let me go ahead and say it in case he does miss the game: that narrative is ridiculous, and needs to die, at least for this season. Horford, who has had a rough first season in Boston after missing extended time early in the season to a severe concussion only to see his return marred by a slump only recently showing signs of being shaken, is out indefinitely with a sprained elbow sustained in last Friday's win against the Los Angeles Lakers. While more than a few Celtics fans are expressing concern about the value of Horford's signing in recent weeks, note the team has not exactly been an exemplar of excellence over the stretches he's missed (especially lately), while the team is currently the second seed in the East, in no small part to the excellent play the team has pieced together when he has been available.

It's worth pumping the breaks on the "not worth the money" narrative, at least until the season is over. It's understandable Celtics fans will get ahead of ourselves - especially when multiple injuries to the team looking like the biggest obstacle to a finals appearance shows a little weakness. But, let's think back and remember: at the start of the year, making it out of the first round was the general consensus of a successful season. It's not unfair to suggest the bar should perhaps be raised after recent successes (save the last few games), but it would be just as unfair to write off his contributions to that success.

To wit, Horford has missed fourteen games this season, during which the Celts are a .500 club. At first glance, this doesn't seem especially noteworthy, but keep in mind with Al, Boston is 33-17, or a .660 club. If this hasn't quite sunken in yet, this means that when Horford can play, Boston is up there with the Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and just behind the .677 Cleveland Cavaliers. Take Al off the court, however, and the Celts are a game away from missing the playoff altogether, should the season end today.

While I am not going to debate whether or not a player's contract should merely reflect on-court production and not other factors which may impact their decision to sign (you aren't being realistic if you think things like future earnings, relocating, and legacy - among MANY other factors - don't figure into these decisions), ask yourself this while your eyes are full of visions of Banner 18: are you enjoying chasing the top seed in the East, or would you prefer to be worrying about the Miami Heat leapfrogging the Celts for the eighth seed? Now ask yourself how you feel about the Horford signing.

You're welcome.

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