Some concern about Celtics Al Horford's play - don't kill the messenger

Most Celtics fans, and others, have noticed the decline in Al Horford's production of late, so it needs to be looked at. Here are some numbers and thoughts on the situation. I adore this guy, so please don't kill the messenger!

This is not only about last night's loss against the Houston Rockets. Horford played 31 minutes and scored 10 points on 4/12 from the field, along with six rebounds and three assists. His plus/minus of -22 was the lowest on the Celtics by far.

In November, Al averaged 13.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 5.2 APG. For the past 12 games he averaged 10.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.5 APG. His field goal shooting has dropped from 56.4% in November to 44.6% in the last 12 games.

In November, he was ranked 41st in the NBA in Offensive Rating, compared to 227th for the last 12 games. His Defensive Rating dropped from 164th to 216th. His plus/minus careened from +10.2 to -1.8. These numbers are all concerning.

Al Horford is the ultimate team player and one of the finest individuals to ever play for the Celtics. Part of this issue is that he may be too unselfish, always trying to boost the production of his teammates. And we can't forget that he was one of the very first high-level free agents to ever choose to come to the Boston Celtics via free agency, allowing the team to entice others (Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward?) to follow suit.

The numbers I have presented are indeed concerning, but I have to think of the heavy load that has been placed on Al's shoulders, a load that many of us can not understand. There is no official Celtics Captain, but Al is the unofficial one. I refer to the word empathy frequently, and Al has that in spades. Trying to make everything right can take a toll, both on and off the court. He certainly has not lost most of the talent he displayed early in the season. With Greg Monroe on board, maybe it is time for Al to get a bit of a break before the playoffs. He is vital to the team's success.

One of our frequent readers, Brian Fleming, offered the following comment about Horford's issue:

Look at what Al did last year in February. Miserable stuff. It appears that he is not a fan of February and early March.

I looked up Al's stats from February - last season - and verified what Brian stated. Horford averaged 31.5 MPG, 10.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 4.0 APG while shooting 39% on field goals, 30% on threes and 78% from the foul line. He was rated 174th Offensively and 143rd Defensively. That gives us hope of a resurgence.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

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