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#pounditThursday, September 21, 2023

Al Horford makes interesting admission after Game 1 loss

Al Horford during warmups

Jan 28, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) prepares for a game against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics were supposed to cruise to an easy win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday night, but James Harden had other plans. Some Celtics players seem to think they would have been better off if Joel Embiid played.

Embiid sat out Game 1 with a knee injury. Harden stepped up and scored 45 points to lead the Sixers to a 119-115 win. After the game, Al Horford indicated that he felt his team was negatively impacted by Embiid’s absence.

Malcolm Brogdon seemed to agree. The NBA Sixth Man of the Year said Harden and his teammates were “empowered” when Embiid was ruled out, and the Celtics were not prepared for it.

“I think in a lot of ways, when Embiid doesn’t play, everybody else is empowered,” Brogdon said, via Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “Everybody else has the green light and guys are gonna step up, and I thought that’s what happened tonight. I think we expected that, guys to step up, but we still struggled with it. We just gotta be prepared.”

The Celtics had better quickly figure out a way to succeed against Philly with or without Embiid on the floor. They had no answers for Harden in Game 1, which very few people saw coming. Some analysts in particular ended up looking really bad for the way they mocked Harden.

Now that the Sixers stole a game in Boston, it would not be a surprise if they gave Embiid at least one more game off. That would give him several extra days of rest for a knee injury that is reportedly somewhat serious. The Celtics have to be prepared either way, as they cannot afford to begin the series by losing both games at home.


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