Al Horford Won’t Play for Celtics vs. Cavaliers Because of Back Injury

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The Boston Celtics announced that forward/center Al Horford will not play at the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday due to lower back pain.

Horford landed back in Boston as part of a trade involving four-time All-Star Kemba Walker. It was probably a welcome development for the 35-year-old given how poorly his two seasons away from the Celtics went.

The Philadelphia 76ers sent him to the Oklahoma City Thunder ahead of the 2020-21 season in what was effectively a salary dump. The Thunder then shut him down after 28 games with an eye toward facilitating a trade at a later date.

Suffice it to say, first-year Celtics head coach Ime Udoka probably isn’t looking for Horford to be the same player who averaged 13.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in his first three years with the team.

The 6’9″ forward is looking rejuvenated in familiar surroundings, putting up 12.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.

Boston does, however, need the five-time All-Star to provide depth in the frontcourt. His ability to play the 4 and 5 also gives Udoka some options whether he wants to run with a smaller or bigger lineup. Taking that flexibility away is a setback for the team.

With Horford out, the Celtics will likely need to lean on forward Grant Williams a little more alongside center Robert Williams in the frontcourt.

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