After a slow start to the season, the Celtics have hit their stride, winning five straight and six of their last seven games to climb to fifth in the East at 15-10. Unfortunately, like last season, the Boston injury report is beginning to fill up with nagging injuries and illnesses leading to five players being listed as doubtful or out for Monday’s action.
Brad Stevens would later confirm Hayward and Horford being out for their game against the Pelicans, along with Terry Rozier starting for Kyrie Irving. According to Stevens, Horford’s knee soreness is being caused by patellar tendonitis, and the team will be cautious with their star big man before working him back into the rotation.
A tendonitis issue might be a bit of an explanation for Horford’s subpar play this season, at least compared to the expectations he’s created over a decade of steady play in the league. A year ago, Horford was quietly the Celtics’ MVP, boasting a 7.1 net rating that fell to a -0.8 when he left the floor. The offense and defense were better with Horford last season, and he was a constant presence and a steady hand for what became a very young team after Irving and Hayward’s seasons ended.
This season, Horford has had the opposite impact on the Celtics, whose net rating jumps from a 3.5 to a 14.3 when Horford leaves the floor. Boston’s defense is markedly better without Horford, and the offense even sees a minor uptick without him in a major surprise considering his importance in recent years. Hopefully some rest and time off can bring back the Horford of a year ago, because Boston will need that desperately if they’re to get out of the East this season.