Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Horford continues to put up the kind of numbers that Celtics fans have not seen from a player in decades.
He finished with 17 points, five rebounds, eight assists and two blocked shots – numbers he has reached in each of the Celtics’ last three games.
The last time a Boston player had 17 or more points, five or more rebounds, eight or more assists and at least two blocked shots in three consecutive games, it was done by some guy named Larry Bird back in 1990.
There were many who questioned why the Celtics offered up a king’s ransom for Horford, a four-time All-Star.
But now that he’s back in the mix after missing nine games due to a concussion, the four-year, $113 million contract he signed with Boston looks like money well spent.
You can count Avery Bradley among the Celtics players who appreciate all that Horford has brought to the floor for Boston this season.
“Al can score the ball. But it’s all the little things that he does and how he gets the ball moving; it’s so contagious,” Bradley told reporters after the win.
On this Thanksgiving Day, we’ll weave the very original theme of “giving thanks” throughout this dump. Let’s start with the 113 million dollar man and his measurable impact through six games played. Al Horford epitomizes the adage “give the game what it needs,” which showed again last night as his passing, defense and timely scoring were on display. I heard a sports radio caller a few days ago bemoan that Horford is not a difference maker, not the type of player that will put the Celtics over the top.
What Horford does is amplify all of the strengths this Celtics team already possessed: offensive spacing, defensive grit, selfless basketball. The Celtics are a better version of themselves with Al Horford and when (not if) Danny Ainge makes a move for another star, Horford as your 1B player will be enough to put the Celtics over the top.
Horford is stuffing the stat sheet, making teammates better and doing it all with an understated demeanor that meshes perfectly with the coach and culture already in place. The Celtics are 5-1 with a healthy Al Horford– let’s be thankful and hope for his continued health.
On page 2, thanks to Jae Crowder’s (currently) healthy ankles
Jae Crowder doesn’t believe his ankles are his Achilles’ heel.
The Celtics forward missed eight games this season after spraining his left ankle when he stepped on Chicago’s Rajon Rondo in the season’s fourth game. Last season, he missed eight straight and 9-of-10 when he sprained his right ankle against Houston in March.
Nevertheless, he doesn’t believe he has a congenital weakness in the ankles.
“I could if I was just going down the court and I just rolled my ankle,” he said before holding up well while scoring 15 points in 22 minutes as the Celts took down the Nets, 111-92, last night. “I came down on Rondo’s foot, I came down on James Harden’s foot — those are just freak accidents. It just happened to be my ankle.
“I don’t feel like I’m injury prone or anything. It just happened. Those things just happen in basketball, and I’ve got the bad end of that stick thus far. But up until last year, I never had problems with my ankles, so I don’t feel like it’s a thing. I’ve got bad luck right now.”
Boston Herald – Jae Crowder’s luck is bad, not his ankle
As much as Al Horford’s presence has translated into wins over the past week, so to has Crowder’s. Once you sprain an ankle, any little tweak or roll feels ten times worse and that has to be the concern with Crowder. Here’s to hoping Crowder follows the ankle trajectory of Steph Curry, who was plagued by weak ankles early in his career, but has been fine the last four-plus seasons. With Crowder and Horford back in the fold, the Celtics have the look of a 50-plus win team again.
And finally, thanks, Brooklyn
The Celtics did Danny Ainge and the franchise future a solid last night.
With the right to swap first round draft picks with the Nets in next June’s draft — not to mention owning their pick outright in 2018 — it is imperative that the Celts push Brooklyn as deep into the lottery as possible.
So this 111-92 Bostonian beatdown was a two-fer of sorts, improving the Celts to a perfect 3-0 on this road trip and 9-6 overall while dropping the Nets to 4-10.
“I know we have some of their draft picks,” said Isaiah Thomas, “but I don’t really get much into that, because that’s not my job. I try to focus in on doing what I can on the court. I know a little bit about the draft picks, but other than that, I don’t know what’s going on.”
Herald – Brooklyn blowout: Celtics down Nets
Remember when the Nets and Celtics had identical 3-4 records a few weeks ago? Yeah– neither do I. The Nets look like they’ll continue to scrap under Kenny Atkinson, but scrap won’t lead to loads of wins. The Nets are right back near the bottom of the standings. Here’s to nightly scoreboard watching and keeping an eye on the freshmen class of college ballers, all while feeling guiltless with every Celtics victory.
And here’s to doing it again next year, too.
Happy Thanksgiving, Red’s Army family!
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Thomas scores 23, Celtics beat Nets for 3rd straight win