Celtics explain Al Horford’s success in defending Sixers star Joel Embiid


Boston Celtics big man Al Horford has been a nemesis of Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid for some time now. The Celtics used Horford’s toughness and intelligence to neutralize Embiid as best he could and make a difference on the defensive end.

In Boston’s 88-87 win over the Sixers on Dec. 1 at TD Garden, Horford was Embiid’s main defenseman and he limited him to just 3 of 17 shots. Since then, Embiid has been on an obvious streak and he ended up winning Player of the Month for December. The big guy also dropped 41 points to Boston in his second game against them on Dec. 20, even though Horford didn’t play in that game.

He is also currently on a streak where he has scored 30+ points in eight straight games. Even with Horford playing in their third game in Philadelphia on Friday, Embiid will be a tough game for veteran Horford.

“Using his veteran experience and knowledge,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “He had a fair amount of playoffs against him. Obviously here in Philadelphia together, but Joel’s first game against us 3 in 17, and not to be mistaken, he missed a few easy shots he normally would, but credit to Al and the rest of the team.

With the way Embiid is playing, it won’t just be Horford. The big guy will face a combination of Robert Williams III, Horford and a wave of double-teams that the Celtics will no doubt send him.

“It will never be one guy,” added Udoka. “I think he’s good at removing certain things. The team must be behind him and help him too. It will be a full effort on him. The way he’s riding right now and playing at a high level, he’ll never just be a guy who can stop Joel. He’s proven that, but I think we’ve got some big guys and capable guys to chase him down and throw him off balance. That’s the plan.”

The Sixers and Celtics will announce at 7 p.m. EST from the Wells Fargo Center on Friday.

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