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Brad Stevens gushes over Al Horford’s Celtics debut

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Boston’s big free-agent addition played limited minutes vs. 76ers but gives fans promise for future

NBA: Preseason-Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Newly-acquired forward/center Al Horford showed a glimpse of what he can bring to the Celtics roster in 2016-17.

Against the Philadelphia 76ers in the team’s preseason opener at the Mullins Center in Amherst, MA, Horford’s presence on both ends of the court sparked an early 25-9 lead with the starters in the game. Although Boston ultimately lost 92-89, there was a lot of good to take away from the game—and from Horford’s performance in particular.

He played in just over 15 minutes but was well on his way to a double-double, scoring eight points on 4-of-8 shooting and pulling down eight rebounds. He finished his night with a +19 point differential while on the floor.

Horford waited little time to get to work, as he took an Avery Bradley pass and knocked down a 19-foot jumper 12 seconds in to score the team’s first points of the preseason.

The 30-year-old veteran’s floor spacing and physical presence in the middle of the paint created a plethora of open looks for his teammates. Speaking with CSNNE’s A. Sharrod Blakely, head coach Brad Stevens opened up about what Horford brings offensively.

“He’s going to draw attention,” Stevens said. “When he’s in the seam and roll he usually makes the right play. He’s had a nice, contagious effect on that group. It didn’t happen the first couple of days because they were still kind of figuring each other out.”

The Celtics were able to knock down 5 of 10 shots from beyond the arc in the first quarter, against an albeit mediocre 76ers defense, with Horford drawing attention from the top of the key and in.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal in the off-season, downplayed the starters’ opening-night performance, telling Blakely that “we were getting a lot of good looks on offense” and “that’s what you want.”

The next chance to catch Horford in a Celtics uniform will be on Thursday when Boston travels to Charlotte to face the Hornets. The game will be aired on Comcast Sportsnet New England at 7:30 p.m. EST.