The Atlanta Hawks received some bad news Friday night about Al Horford. An MRI showed that Horford completely tore his right pectoral muscle in his shoulder against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He will be out indefinitely until the Hawks decide what to do with the All-Star center. The Hawks are hopeful that Horford will not miss the rest of the season and will come back at some point towards the end of the year. Atlanta will need him if the team wants to have a chance of advancing in the playoffs.
Horford’s injury could not come at a worse time for Atlanta. Right now, the Hawks hold the No. 3 seed in the East and really seem to be finding their stride as a team this season. With the loss of their star center, it will be a hard road for the Hawks the rest of the way. This season Horford was putting up All-Star worthy numbers, leading the Hawks in points per game at 18.6 and in rebounds at 8.4 per game. That kind of production cannot be replaced by just one guy. In order for the Hawks to overcome his injury, multiple players will need to elevate their games to the next level for the rest of the season.
No team can prepare for an injury to one of their star players, but luckily the Hawks have GM Danny Ferry on their side. He made some very important moves during the offseason that could help Atlanta overcome Horford’s injury. The new additions of big men Gustavo Ayon and Pero Antic give the Hawks two players who can fill the void at center.
Neither will be asked to replace Horford’s numbers because that’s impossible, but if these two can collectively contribute over 10 rebounds and 10 points every game, I see no reason why the Hawks should take a big step back. In limited minutes this season, both have already shown signs of promise and with increased roles, both should produce at very efficient levels for the Hawks.
If the Eastern Conference was any better I would be worried about the Hawks’ chances of making the playoffs this season. However, what I’m more worried about is whether or not the Hawks can actually do anything in the playoffs without Horford. His leadership and production on the court every night is something Atlanta will need in order to advance far in the playoffs. Get well soon, Horford. The Hawks need you.