Quantcast 2013 NBA: Atlanta Hawks


Al Horford out for the year

Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford will be shelved indefinitely, and likely for the rest of the season, with a torn pectoral muscle, after having surgery on it on Tuesday. The 6’10 big man suffered the injury on December 26 in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, when he extended his right arm in an attempt to deflect an inbounds pass.

Horford is no stranger to pectoral injuries; he tore his left pectoral in the 2011-12 season, which was shortened by the lockout. He played in just 11 games that year and missed 4 months, but was able to return for the Hawks’ playoff series against the Celtics. That being said, Horford possibly coming back later this year for the playoffs (if Atlanta makes it) isn’t completely out of the question, though it is highly unlikely, according to statements made by the Hawks.

His injury is a devastating one for the Hawks. Horford was the centerpiece of a strong Atlanta frontcourt, next to power forward Paul Millsap, which had lead the Hawks to an 18-14 record, putting them at 3 rd place in the Eastern Conference. He was averaging 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.5 blocks before the injury, with points and blocks at a career high. He was snubbed of a third All-Star Game appearance this year, a year in which he is leading the Hawks in scoring and rebounding.

The Hawks are left with DeMarre Carroll, Pero Antic, Gustavo Ayon, and Elton Brand to make up for the absence of Horford. None of these players can come close to giving the Hawks the same level of production as Horford, and this raises uncertainty as to what Atlanta will be able to accomplish this season. Before Horford’s injury, the Hawks looked like they would likely make the playoffs with a fairly high seed. They beat the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers and had narrow 2-point losses against the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, who are both sitting in the 2 spot in their respective conferences. In the three games they have played since Horford was sidelined, the Hawks lost to the Orlando Magic in between 2-point and 1-point wins over the Charlotte Bobcats and Boston Celtics, who are both well below .500. Of course any NBA team is capable of winning on any given night, and all good teams lose to bad teams at some point during every season, but the immediate aftermath of Horford’s torn pectoral does not look promising for Atlanta.

Even given how poorly the East has been performing this year, this setback could cause the Hawks to miss the playoffs. Atlanta will have to rely partially on the inadequacy of the rest of its Eastern Conference foes below them while head coach Mike Budenholzer works on making up for the loss of Horford in the lineup. The supporting cast of the Hawks, including Millsap, point guard Jeff Teague, and three-point specialist Kyle Korver, will be forced to step up their production in order to continue to win games. There has been speculation that the organization, under GM Danny Ferry, might trade for a big man to replace Horford, but that is unlikely, seeing as he will be back and healthy next season, and is under contract through the 2015-16 season.


By: Jason Dobkin
Pro Basketball Fans Writer


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