Wednesday, Nov. 8 – Kings at Celtics
Pregame – Horford Enters Concussion Protocol After Blow to Head
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have done an exceptional job overcoming the absence of Gordon Hayward early this season, but now they will be tested even more. Star big man Al Horford has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol, which means he will have to sit out Wednesday night when the Celtics host the Los Angeles Lakers.
Horford suffered a blow to the head Monday night when Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore was attempting to block one of his shot attempts late in the second quarter. Horford showed some initial discomfort after the hit, but he was able to play the rest of the game, logging 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, while helping to lead Boston to its ninth straight win.
However, he was not feeling well Wednesday morning and notified the Celtics’ training staff. He later texted with coach Brad Stevens, who wants to take a precautionary approach with the injury.
“He felt pretty good there for about 24 hours, and then experienced some symptoms,” Stevens told the media shortly ahead of Wednesday’s tip-off at TD Garden. “We just wanted to make sure we monitored it through a couple of days.”
This is Horford’s second time entering the concussion protocol since he’s been with the Celtics. He suffered a concussion last October and missed nine games over a three-week span due to lingering symptoms.
With Horford’s history of head injuries in mind, Stevens said the Celtics would follow whatever steps necessary to get him back to full health.
“The NBA’s got a really good protocol for it,” Stevens said. “It’s got a great path back to playing. They do the baseline test at the beginning of the year. They have the independent doctor in the league that has to make sure and check off on it. It’s a really good process.
“I don’t know the medical part about having one and then having another one down the road,” added the coach. “I know that if you have one and then you have another one before it’s fully healed, that’s obviously a real issue. But we will do whatever’s in the best interest of Al.”
Marcus Morris will start in Horford’s place at the 4, alongside Aron Baynes at the 5. Morris is capable of filling Horford’s void to some degree, though Stevens says that fully making up for the four-time All-Star’s absence will require a communal effort.
“I don’t expect [Morris] to be Al,” said Stevens. “I don’t expect anybody to be Al. I think we have to replace what he does by committee. We can’t expect anybody to play like him or be like him on both ends of the floor. We just have to make sure that if he’s averaging nine rebounds, we have to get nine rebounds out of that spot. If he’s scoring the ball for us at a certain clip, we’ve either gotta score it from that spot, or around it, or a little bit more.
“We’ve been good about focusing on the task at hand and guys being prepared and ready. But there’s no question he’s a big part of our team on both ends.”
The Celtics have already done an exceptional job making up for the absence of Hayward by going 9-2 since he suffered a potentially season-ending left leg injury Opening Night.
Boston will look to continue its good fortune without Horford as well, as it goes for its 10th straight win Wednesday night against the rival Lakers.
– Taylor C. Snow