Horford showing he's a vital cog in Celtics' success

A. Sherrod Blakely
NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON – When you talk to NBA folks about Al Horford, they speak of his leadership and willingness to do whatever is required in order for his team to be successful.

Often that has meant sacrificing parts of his game because it was in the best interest of the team.

But as we get deeper and deeper into this season, it's becoming clearer that the Celtics need the "no-holds-back" Al Horford who tends to fill up the stat sheet in several categories and maybe just as important, significantly impacts winning.

Monday's matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks was one of those games, a game in which Horford once again flirted with a triple-double in helping lead Boston to a 111-100 win over the Bucks.

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Horford continued to play at a highly efficient level, scoring 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting to go with nine rebounds and eight assists.

"He's been really good," said head coach Brad Stevens of Horford.

For the season, Horford is shooting 55.9 percent from the field along with connecting on a career-best 44.6 percent of his 3-pointers.

Horford's shooting touch has been red-hot lately, connecting on at least 53.3 percent of his shots from the field in each of Boston's last five games.

"I think it's just the work I've been putting in," Horford said. "It's starting to pay off for me."

And the Celtics (21-4) who currently have the best record in the NBA.

As good as Boston has been thus far, players and coaches are unanimous in believing that they've only scratched the surface of this team's potential.

And the play of Horford will have a lot to do with that growth.

"It'll just continue to get better," said Boston's Kyrie Irving.

As far as Horford is concerned, Irving added, "He's just shooting the right shots and being aggressive, and him getting more comfortable with where his shots are coming from and being able to adjust on the fly. We want to be aggressive and he knows that."

And maybe more important, he's showing it with his play that has been a vital cog in the Celtics' success this season which has not only padded their win total but also brought about increased respect from foes.

"They are a really good team and from start to finish they play hard," said Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo. "They play together so with a team like that, you have to be disciplined on defense and keep playing hard."

Said Stevens: "He's playing at a good level."

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