Game Preview | With Horford, a Focus on Playing Fast

by Lauren Rosen

More than a quarter of the way through the season, Al Horford has shown why he's quickly become such a valuable addition to the 76ers (15-7), both alongside and apart from Joel Embiid. 

With Embiid (right hip contusion) out Saturday against Cleveland (5-15), Horford will get his latest opportunity to man the five-spot in a starting capacity. 

When Horford assumes that role, Brett Brown has a specific vision for how he wants the club to play.

“Playing [without Joel,] with more of a track meet team," Brown said of Horford's impact. "He’s figuring that out, and he excels."

Horford’s presence has been felt on both ends. With Horford on the court, the offense has been steady, converting 48.8% of its field goals and 40.2% of its threes.

The Sixers' net rating is a stellar 8.1 with Horford on the court.

With Horford expected to get the starting nod Saturday, the Sixers' “track meet” style will have another chance to gel. 

“He’s trying to navigate this whole new city and this new team with an element of class and care," Brown said. "I think that he’s done that.” 

That care has not gone unappreciated by Horford's teammates, who have frequently praised his steadfast, thoughtful leadership.

There’s no doubt that the veteran big man’s role will continue to be multidimensional, and crucial, one.

“I think his path is clear, there’s not a mystery of how we can best use him. I think we’re on the right path,” Brown said.

As for Horford himself, he knows that comfort comes with time.

“I think that the more games that I’m starting to play, the more I’m understanding where my shots are coming from, how I need to play, the things I need to do,” Horford said.

Horford and the Sixers will look to protect their undefeated home court Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Opponent Outlook:

The Cavaliers visit the Sixers on the second night of a back-to-back, after falling to the Magic in Cleveland Friday, 93-87. The Cavs have now dropped 11 of their last 12.

Sophomore point guard Collin Sexton leads his team in scoring, averaging 18.1 points per game. Sexton has scored in double-digits in each of the 20 games he’s played this season thus far.

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