In the best of times, Al Horford, at 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, is an under-sized center and more suited to playing power forward.
Now consider that when the two-time All-Star returned from nearly four months out with a torn pectoral muscle last May in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, Horford had to battle the behemoths in the post without having all of his strength back in his upper body.
Horford said when he reviewed the game films, he saw that he was doing the right things on defense in terms of his positioning, but he estimates that his effectiveness was only about 70 percent. Even now, he said that he must continue to build his strength back up and hopes he will get back to where he was before the injury by the start of the season on Nov. 2.
"Just some of the things I wanted to do – or play my game, which is more aggressive and more physical -- I couldn't do it because I was limited strength-wise," Horford said. "And that was something I've been trying to deal with all summer is to try and get my strength back. I'm not 100 percent as far as my strength but I'm feeling pretty good right now."
When Horford returned and played in Game 4 of the Hawks' series with Boston on May 6, he nonetheless performed at a high level. Coach Larry Drew said he was concerned to some degree about Horford's minutes and risk of re-injury and played Horford 20 minutes in that first game. Horford made 6-of-10 shots for 12 points and five rebounds with one assist.
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