11/13 Game Preview: Hawks at Celtics
Al Horford is a major presence in the paint for the Atlanta Hawks. He's now also a threat from downtown.
Horford looks to show off his growing range as the Hawks seek their best road start in 48 years Friday night against the Boston Celtics.
Horford is averaging 17.6 points and 8.0 rebounds while his 51.7 percent shooting is the highest qualifying mark for Atlanta (8-2). While those totals hover around his career averages, the All-Star center has added a new dimension; 3-pointers.
Horford has connected on 12 of 36 from beyond the arc after going 11 for 36 all of last season. He had the best 3-point game of his career in Wednesday's 106-98 win over New Orleans, making 4 of 6 while shooting 11 of 15 overall to finish with a season-high 26 points. He also added eight rebounds and three blocks.
"That's something I've been working on," Horford said. "I'm not just shooting to shoot 'em. I feel better about it, too. I'm more comfortable in the offense. I'm much more comfortable with my shooting."
Horford's added range is a big reason why the Hawks' 93 converted 3s are among the most in the NBA.
Atlanta is also the last remaining unbeaten team on the road in the Eastern Conference and has an opportunity to go 5-0 for the first time since 1967-68 - the franchise's final season in St. Louis.
Jeff Teague has been much more productive on the road, averaging 21.5 points compared to 16.0 at home. He's scored 19.5 per game over his last eight visits to Boston. However, the guard was limited to 10 while going 4 for 12 from the floor before Evan Turner's running jumper with 0.2 seconds left sealed an 89-88 win for the Celtics on Feb. 11.
Turner finished that matchup with 12 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as Boston (3-4) won for the sixth time in eight matchups with Atlanta at TD Garden.
If Avery Bradley is still bothered by a bruised lower left leg, Turner could replace him in the lineup for a second straight game. He had a season-high 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting in Boston's 102-91 loss to Indiana on Wednesday. The Celtics missed 20 of 24 from 3-point range and committed 18 turnovers - one shy of their season high.
"We didn't take care of the ball," Turner said. "I think we kind of rushed a little bit. I think we kind of did a few of them back-to-back-to-back."
Isaiah Thomas leads Boston with 20.6 points per game but was held to a season-low 14 Wednesday on 4 of 13 from the field. The guard has averaged 25.3 in his last three meetings with Atlanta.
Jared Sullinger is averaging 17.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in his past four matchups with the Hawks, hitting his scoring average with 15 boards Feb. 11. He's pulled down 21 rebounds over the past two games after averaging 7.4 in the first five.
Sullinger has started the last four contests at center, setting up a matchup with Horford on Friday.