Atlantic Notes: Horford, Knox, Boucher, Barnes, Anunoby

November 12, 2021

Offseason re-acquisition Al Horford has been a bright spot for the Celtics, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston.

At age 35, Horford says he’s used to people labeling him an elder statesman, but he’s not surprised by his strong play.

For me, honestly, I’m kind of used to it because when I was 30 here, I feel like people were bringing it up like, ‘Oh, he’s 30!’ and all this stuff. I play how I play, I’ve kind of been kind — I feel really good, physically. I feel really good. I know where I’m at. I know what I can do. And, yeah, I’m 35, but I feel as long as I’m putting in the work — I am putting in the work — I’m doing everything that I need to do and I feel like I can keep playing at a high level,” Horford said with a smile.

Forberg says that Horford has arguably been the team’s best two-way player to start the season, despite missing the first game after battling COVID-19. He’s averaging a career high 2.4 blocks per game, and his 9.0 rebounds are his highest mark in nine seasons.

Hoford is grateful for the time he spent with the Thunder last season, saying they have impressive medical and performance staffs.

[The Thunder medical staff was] great. They just had great support systems, kind of like what we have here now, but they really — looking at my nutrition, helping me with treatments before or after practice, the lift, or the performance stuff, kind of mapping the schedule out and kind of making the player involved in everything that goes into playing the games, which is something that we’re doing here as well,” Horford said.

And that, for me, that year was very beneficial, for me to feel good again, get healthy, and things like that. They have a great program over there. I was really impressed. And they really helped me be in this position, from a basketball standpoint, health-wise.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • In his latest mailbag, Fred Katz of The Athletic says there’s no clear path to Kevin Knox getting minutes for the Knicks anytime soon. Katz notes that Knox is behind Obi Toppin on the team’s depth chart, and even if the team wanted to utilize Knox’s three-point shooting, they’d probably be more inclined to play rookie Quentin Grimes, who Katz says is a superior defender. Knox will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season if the Knicks tender him a qualifying offer, which seems pretty unlikely at this point. If they choose not to, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.
  • After undergoing hand surgery in training camp, Chris Boucher had a poor start to the season for the Raptors, but he’s starting to turn things around, according to Michael Grange of Boucher says it’s been tough to get acclimated with his new teammates after the injury. “I was doing so good in training camp, and then you get hurt in preseason (and) the team gets chemistry (when) you’re out of it,” said Boucher, “you’ve got to find a way to introduce yourself to the team. … I’m sure a lot of people were disappointed in the way that I’ve been playing and what I’ve been giving this year. I have a good circle and they help me stay within myself and focus on the right things, knowing every day is a new day and coming in with the same energy and being ready to change some games.” Boucher was one of the most improved players in the league last season and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
  • Strong play from Scottie Barnes and OG Anunoby suggests a bright future for the Raptors, according to Dan Devine of The Ringer. Devine provides stats and video breakdowns of the two Toronto forwards with enormous wingspans.