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Halftime Hot Takes: Al holds it down, defense struggles vs. Wizards

There’s been some rough sequences tonight against Washington, but there’s been bright spots, too.

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

It feels like the Celtics are putting things together slowly this season, but have shown flashes of greatness. Sitting at 2-2, the first half against Washington tonight was more of the same: a teeter-totter between hope and panic.

Horford heard you

I’ve been pushing the Al Horford bandwagon since the trade, since people told me he was too slow to be effective. It’s been four and a half games, yes, but let me overreact, it’s the best part of this.

Horford has been everything this team needed last season, consistent smart basketball. He’s everyone’s favorite dad for a reason! He puts the fun in fundamental.

His rebounding and outlet passing to begin transition opportunities has been solid tonight, and he’s shown he still is an effective shot blocker. Horford was the best starter on the court in the first quarter, and his consistency is very valuable to the team’s success moving forward.

Horford posted a beautifully “Al” stat line in the first half, with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists, plus a block and a steal. He was second in points on the Celtics behind Dennis Schröder. I’m overjoyed to have him back.

Panic meter: defense edition

I’m worried about this team’s defense. It’s strange because there are individually good defenders. It can be concerning, but my panic is still a tame 4/10 right now.

Some defensive lapses seem purely based on a lack of communication or familiarity. There are far too many, but it’s still too early for me to be in “sky is falling” Chicken Little mode.

Despite a bad offensive half tonight, I’m still much more concerned about the defense, because with Tatum and Brown, I always have faith in the offense figuring it out. The defense seems like what will hold the team back from greatness.

Give Nesmith a shot, already

I know Ime Udoka said he was pressing and rushing, but Aaron Nesmith should get a crack when someone struggles or seems out of it, like Josh Richardson has tonight. I understand letting Richardson try and figure it out, but Nesmith could give a boost with that reckless energy he plays with.

Jabari Parker has been a reliable bench scorer, so it makes sense to sit Nesmith if Richardson is providing more defense on the wing, but he seemed out of sync on defense tonight.

There’s definitely a lot more talent on the roster this season, so it makes sense that Nesmith isn’t getting a ton of playing time, but I’d like to see what he can do when others are having an off night.