Brad Stevens chats with Al Horford after practice Thursday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)
WALTHAM – The Celtics have been without Al Horford for four games now. The likelihood that streak goes to five is very high as Brad Stevens said it’s doubtful that the big man still in concussion protocol will be able to take the court against the Knicks Friday at TD Garden.
But the Celtics did get good news on the Horford front. Horford, who did not travel to Washington for Wednesday’s blowout loss, did return to the court with the team for practice Thursday.
But the practice was not one of high intensity and he has not been cleared for contact or physical work.
“He did some light stuff with us, so he was cleared to go through some of it,” Stevens said. “We didn’t do anything contact, physical, competitive, so I don’t know where that puts him in the protocol. I haven’t gotten the update of what’s next. But he is progressing, He’s feeling a lot better.”
Stevens and Horford spent about 15 minutes talking after practice Thursday.
As for his chances of playing Friday?
“I don’t know, but I would say that would doubt it,” Stevens answered. “But I don’t know what the official diagnosis is, as far as I don’t know the official next step.”
Jae Crowder has missed three games with a sprained left ankle. Crowder was not with the team at practice on Thursday.
“I would doubt we see him until maybe next week when we get back home,” Stevens said. “That’s not for sure either, but that’s roughly the time line we’re looking at, best case scenario.”
It’s no secret the Celtics have been getting their collective doors blown off in the last two first quarters of their last two defenseless losses to the Nuggets and Wizards. Against Denver they allowed 24 first-quarter points to Emmanuel Mudiay and fell behind 42-23. Wednesday in Washington was even worse. They were blown out 34-8 and lost, 118-93.
What are the chances Stevens breaks up the lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jaylen Brown, Amir Johnson and Tyler Zeller?
“Well, the Cleveland game we played well right out of the gate,” Stevens began. “[Wednesday] we played poorly right out of the gate. And against Denver they really separated in the last six minutes of the first quarter, although we didn’t play great out of the gate. But it wasn’t like you could separate first group versus second group necessarily. We’ll give thought to lineup change. We’ll make the right thing for our team. But the bottom line is the guys that are playing are going to play because of our numbers in some part. But I think that’s certainly worth considering. But I think it’s also not like we’ve put together 48 good minutes.
“We have a lot of guys that haven’t done this yet that are playing. And I think that’s something we learn over time. And guys that – the best thing that we all can do is move on to the next play and do our jobs as well as we can. And certainly that happens as a result of when another team’s drubbing you, you see that any time in any sport. The best of the best can move past it, but everybody gets affected a time or two in a game like that in being frustrated.”
Stevens, who acknowledged he did not vote for President-elect Donald Trump, said he did hear the comments of Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, who called Trump “brazenly racist” and blasted those who voted for him. Warriors coach Steve Kerr also ripped Trump.
“I didn’t see Steve’s. I saw Stan’s. I have a lot of respect for those guys. I have a lot of respect for – again, I talked about how this, yesterday we talked about how the election is certainly an emotional topic,” Stevens said. “And I know Stan, and I know how tight he is with his family and his daughters. And I saw him reference that in that quote. And I understand – you understand anybody that is really emotional about it. The thing that I’d say is, like I said yesterday, we try our best to have dialogue in here about those things and move forward with the mindset of doing our best to use the platform to make positive.”
Stevens said he spoke with his team about the election on Wednesday before the shootaround.