Pregame Post-Ups: Celtics Hope Horford Earns All-Star Nod
Wednesday, February 15 - 76ers at Celtics
Pregame – Celtics Hope Horford Earns Fifth All-Star Nod
BOSTON – Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has been ruled out of this weekend’s All-Star Game due to a left knee injury, which means one Eastern Conference roster spot is now vacant.
Brad Stevens, the coach of the East squad, believes the void should be filled by Boston big man Al Horford.
“I always base my decision off of who is really impacting winning, and I think that’s why Al would be a good choice,” Stevens said Wednesday evening before hosting the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. “I’m hopeful that Al gets that call, though it’s not our call. There’s a lot of good players in this league and it doesn’t take anything away from anybody else, but we certainly hope that Al gets that call.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is responsible for making the decision, which could happen at any moment. Horford, a four-time All-Star, says it would be a privilege to get another All-Star nod.
“If it was offered to me, definitely,” Horford said an hour ahead of tip-off. “That happened last year (replacing injured Chris Bosh) and it’s always a great honor. The people that know me, they understand that it’s always good to be recognized, but we’re playing for bigger things here and we have really great rhythm as a group right now. But yeah, it would be a great honor if that happened.”
Horford is putting together a well-rounded statistical season during his first campaign with the Celtics. The 10-year veteran is averaging 14.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists (the highest mark among NBA centers) and 1.6 blocks per game. He is one of two players in the league, along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging at least 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 blocks per game.
His numbers, however, only tell half the story. As Stevens said, he has a great impact on winning and is one of the major reasons why the Celtics are currently the No. 2 seed in the East.
“He impacts us everywhere, that’s the thing that’s kind of amazing,” said frontcourt mate Tyler Zeller. “He’s not a guy who just scores or just rebounds or just blocks shots; he kind of does a little bit of everything. One play that comes to mind is going one-on-one with (James) Harden and being able to come up with a steal. Those are the kind of plays that he’s able to make down the stretch, and he makes it very difficult on opponents.”
Horford’s team-first attitude, outstanding basketball IQ and veteran leadership have all helped put Boston back on the map as a legitimate Eastern Conference contender. Those factors, along with his strong statistics, should be taken into account when Silver makes his final decision.
- Taylor C. Snow