The Boston Celtics are now up 3-2 on the Chicago Bulls after a 108-97 victory on Wednesday night. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley each scored 24 points while Al Horford finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists. Horford was the major offseason acquisition for the Celtics, signing a 4 year, $113.3M contract in free agency. After inking such a massive contract, he was expected to be the new face of the Celtics and cement himself as the next great big man in franchise history.
While the Celtics had a great regular season, finishing as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, Al Horford didn't exactly live up to expectations. He averaged a solid 14 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5 assists per game, but "solid" isn't going to cut it when you are making top of the line money. Instead of being a 20 & 10 guy, Horford has been a 14 & 7 guy, which isn't what the Celtics paid for. They are paying for Horford to produce like he did on Wednesday night on a regular basis and at times exceed that level of production.
If the Boston Celtics want any chance of reaching the NBA Finals, they need their highest paid player (by a lot) to play like it. Isaiah Thomas has been the MVP of this Celtics team and he is making roughly 25% of what Al Horford is making. At the beginning of the season, the Celtics were expecting Al Horford to be their top player, not Isaiah Thomas.
While it's obviously a great thing that Isaiah Thomas has exceeded expectations, it shouldn't be forgotten that according to the payroll, this is Al Horford's team and it's time he plays like it. If Horford is able to produce closer to the 20 & 10 level that he was expected to, the Celtics have a great shot at making it to the NBA Finals. If he stay right around where he's been all season, the Celtics are not going to get past the Cleveland Cavaliers. It's that simple.
The NBA playoffs are where the stars earn their money and so while he hasn't had the best regular season, Al Horford can still earn every penny of what he is making if he leads the Celtics to the NBA Finals. Will he do it? I honestly doubt it, but I'm willing to say he deserves a shot. He had a huge game in a pivotal Game 5, so he's proven that he can step up in the playoffs. Whether or not he can do so consistently is the $113.3 million dollar question.
To connect with NBA Lord on Twitter, click here.
To connect with NBA Lord on Facebook, click here.
To connect with NBA Lord on Google Plus, click here.