Game Preview | Horford Returns to Boston

by Lauren Rosen

Any meeting between the 76ers (18-7) and the Celtics (17-6) is must-see TV.

But this one holds some extra significance for both teams, as Al Horford (questionable - left knee, left hamstring) returns to his old stomping grounds for the first time since becoming a Sixer. His previous three seasons were spent in Boston.

Asked about the impact Horford has had in his early months with his new team, Brett Brown threw praise the big man’s way.

“[Al is] a quiet leader, a true pro, a wonderful human being, and a really good player. He’s been everything that I thought he would be, and we love seeing him in a Philadelphia uniform,” Brown said.

Horford’s frontcourt counterpart agrees.

“He’s a professional,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s been around for awhile, so to have all kinds of talks with him has been great.”

As for the Boston fans, Embiid hopes they’ll give Horford a warm welcome.

“I think he did an excellent job for Boston, for the whole city,” Horford said. “I hope he gets a great reception, and I hope we get the win.”

If the Opening Night meeting between the two teams were any indication, Thursday’s contest shouldn’t disappoint. 

The Sixers took round one, 107-93, in a physical, balanced victory at The Center.

Horford assumed the role of symbolic leader that night -- ringing the first opening bell of the season -- but shifted straight into competitor mode, tallying 16 points, two boards, three assists, and a steal in the victory. 

Heading into Thursday’s duel, the Sixers have won seven of their last eight.

The Celtics and Sixers currently hold the third and fourth positions in the Eastern Conference. The winner of Thursday’s contest will stay, or move into, that third spot.

Thursday’s contest tips at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Opponent Outlook:

The C’s have won four of their last five, falling to the Pacers, 122-117, Wednesday in Indianapolis. Kemba Walker scored 44 points in the contest, his highest mark as a Celtic.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are each having the best seasons of their young careers. Tatum has averaged 20.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while Brown is averaging 19.9 points and 7.0 points per game. 

Both the Sixers and Celtics boast elite defenses this season, each holding a 103.0 defensive rating (tied for no. 3 in NBA).

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