Charles Barkley picks Bucks over Celtics - says Al Horford needs to step up

"They're going to beat 'em!" That is what former NBA superstar, and present TNT analyst, Charles Barkley had to say during TNT's halftime show on Sunday. He picked the Milwaukee Bucks over the Boston Celtics in the first-round Eastern Conference series. Sir Charles cited the numerous Boston injuries as the main reason they would lose.

Sir Charles added that the Boston players, particularly without Kyrie Irving, would have to create their own shots and indicated "it's not easy". Well, Boston went on to take the Sunday game and went 2-0 in the series with another win last night. Sunday's game one had four Celtics notching 20 or more points (Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris) and a fifth (Jayson Tatum) with 19.

Last night's contest saw six Boston players with double-digit points, including a 30-point explosion from Jaylen Brown. So it appears that the Boston youngsters and veteran Morris have done a nice job finding and creating their own shots, and hitting a fine percentage.

Barkley seemed to focus on Celtics Center Al Horford, indicating that Al would have to step up his game for Boston to have a chance in the series. This is what Charles had to say about Al (per's Nicole Yang):

“Hey, listen,” he said. “The guy made the All-Star team, why shouldn’t you expect an All-Star to be an All-Star?”

Barkley said Horford “has to average over 20 points,” for the Celtics to have a chance in the series. His expectations are significantly higher than Horford’s season average of 12.9 points per game.

They made me retired when I was averaging that many points,” he said of Horford’s numbers. “If you’re a good player, your numbers should go up during the playoffs. Your numbers should go up.”

Please try to ignore the "They made me retired" grammatically-deficient comment - but not Barkley's prediction. In the two playoff games so far, Horford has averaged exactly 20.0 PPG on 63% from the field, 67% on threes and 88% on free throws. He has hauled down 8.5 RPG, dished out 4.0 APG, while stealing the ball twice a game and blocking 1.5 shots per game. If that isn't stepping up, please enlighten me!

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Matt West/Boston Herald