Al Horford doesn't think he'll return for Hawks playoffs

Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford said he doesn't expect to return for the playoffs.

Horford underwent surgery after tearing his left pectoral muscle on Jan. 11. He hasn't played since. Doctors initially estimated he would be sidelined three to four months.

"I don't feel like it is realistic that I can play for the playoffs," Horford told Yahoo! Sports. "Obviously, if we advance and start going we will see. But as of right now, the way I feel, I think I am out for the playoffs."

Horford recently told Atlanta reporters he thought he'd return for the playoffs, but Monday's workout appears to have convinced him otherwise. The Hawks will open the playoffs either Saturday or Sunday.

Monday "was the first time I got to run around with the guys a little bit," Horford said. "I just kind of tested myself out. My wind is not there. It's one of the things that I'm not worried about.

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"I'm worried about my back and shoulder area that still doesn't feel right. It feels kind of tender when I'm out there. That kind of worries me a little bit that I'm not comfortable with it yet."

Horford said he feels fine shooting, but still lacks the strength to rebound and defend.

"After the surgery, the doctor told me I probably won't be able to get my strength back until after this summer," he said. "I'm not where I need to be right now."

The Hawks have won seven of 10 games this month and will open the playoffs against the Boston Celtics as the Eastern Conference's fifth seed.

"I felt they have done really well [without me]," Horford said. "The guys have handled it well.

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"Different guys from the team are stepping up night and night out. I think Josh [Smith] has been the biggest difference in the team success. Obviously, I wish I was there to help them. But for now I'm just going to support them from the sidelines."

Horford said he's still considering joining the Dominican Republic's national team in June as it attempts to qualify for an Olympic berth – provided he's healthy and the Hawks give him approval to participate. He just wishes he could guarantee he'd be back for the Hawks during the playoffs.

"You know how you get when this time of year comes around? Your adrenaline gets going," Horford said. "But sometimes you got to look at your body, and that's been hard for me. Even in the past – I never had anything this serious – I try to play through it.

"But with this I don't feel like that's realistic. I don't feel like I can play for the playoffs."

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