Just when it seems the Boston Celtics might experience a semblance of what it feels like to be at full strength, a minor-to-major inconvenience strikes.
Al Horford entered the NBA’s concussion protocol on Wednesday, prior to the Celtics’ victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. It is unclear when he’ll be returning to the lineup.
Here’s ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg with the deets:
The Celtics said Horford, who missed nine games with a concussion last year, began experiencing headaches Wednesday morning, the first symptoms linking him to a possible concussion.
Horford was struck in the head on a foul called in the second quarter of the Celtics’ win at the Atlanta Hawkson Monday night. On the play, Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore came down hard with a forearm to Horford’s head.
Horford grabbed at his head and stayed on the ground for a bit, but he was able to play on.
This sucks for obvious reasons.
The Celtics are never truly going to be at full strength this season after losing Gordon Hayward to a dislocated left ankle and fractured tibia. But Marcus Morris just returned to the rotation this past Friday, so they were enjoying a taste of normal. This derails that feeling, even if only for a short while.
And even a short-term absence comes as a blow to the Celtics. Horford has been an absolute beast this season, averaging 14.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 53.1 percent shooting, including a 47.4 percent clip from downtown. He also leads the team in Defensive Box Plus-Minus by a relatively wide margin, according to Basketball-Reference.
Boston will play host to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday and then the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. The length of time it takes a player to clear the NBA’s concussion protocol varies, so we cannot be sure how long Horford will be out, assuming he’ll miss more games at all.
If he is forced to watch from the sidelines, both Aron Baynes and Morris should end up getting more minutes, with Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye also factoring into the equation a bit more.