Down a pair of key players on Wednesday vs. Philadelphia, the Celtics got a boost from Derrick White – who scored 27 points – and Al Horford, who contributed 14 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks while playing strong defense against Joel Embiid, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
As Bontemps notes, White and Horford have taken a step back in the Celtics’ pecking order this season due to the offseason acquisitions of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. But with Porzingis and Jaylen Brown unavailable vs. the Sixers, White and Horford provided a reminder of their importance to the club.
“That’s the luxury that we have on our team,” Jayson Tatum said. “We have so many talented guys.”
It was a big night for Horford, in particular. While White has remained a permanent starter for the Celtics even after the offseason roster changes, Horford has been asked to come off the bench on a regular basis for the first time in his career. Coming into this season, he had been a reserve in just 10 of 1,013 regular season games. He has started only three of 10 this fall.
“We were we down a couple of guys so having to step up and create a spark plug was important for me to do,” Horford said, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “I feel like that’s kind of been what I do for the most part, if I have to guard in the perimeter, if I have to guard in the post, create energy in different ways, shoot threes. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help our group.”
Here’s more from around the Atlantic:
- While Gary Trent Jr. (foot) is expected to suit up for the Raptors on Friday after missing the club’s last three games, forward OG Anunoby is listed as doubtful. As Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets, Anunoby – who has been out for the past two games – received stitches on his lacerated right index finger and can still only shoot and dribble with his left hand.
- Eric Koreen of The Athletic doesn’t believe that the Raptors‘ decisions to give up a top-six protected first-round pick for Jakob Poeltl and then to sign him to a four-year, $78MM contract were bad ones in isolation, given that Poeltl is a quality NBA starting center. However, Koreen suggests that Poeltl’s fit with Toronto’s other frontcourt pieces hasn’t exactly been seamless so far. The team has a -9.9 net rating when Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, and Scottie Barnes have shared the court this season.
- Sixers forward Nicolas Batum, who has been away from the team for personal reasons, is out for Friday’s game in Atlanta but will likely be back for Sunday’s contest in Brooklyn, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Mark Jackson had been expected to call some Knicks games for MSG Network this season, but it seems that won’t happen after all, according to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post. Knicks management objected to having Jackson travel on the team plane, Marchand explains, in part due to an old “quarrel” between the former Warriors head coach and current Knicks assistant Darren Erman, who worked under Jackson in Golden State and recorded meetings without Jackson’s knowledge.