Mar 14, 2012, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia (27) is defended by Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (1) and guard Randy Foye (4) at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
There has been very few days this season where the Atlanta Hawks were completely healthy. Through all of the nagging injuries to a variety of different players the center position in particular has been hit the hardest. That is a trend that doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.
"I realized that I'm not nearly where I need to be or want to be, not even to give the team anything," Horford said. "That's when we kind of decided that it was best for me to take some time off, keep working, see how I progress. But we are just not where we need to be yet."
It is interesting that there have been very few comments from Larry Drew or any of the Atlanta front office in regards to Horford. As bad a shape as the Hawks are in right now at the center position this is probably the correct call. The last thing the Hawks need is for Horford to take the floor tentative which would raise the chances of injury. His indecision of late suggests that he is not confident in his condition and that should send up red flags to all of those involved.
The Horford news is unfortunate for the Hawks given the current status of Zaza Pachulia. Vivlamore also reports that Pachulia is uncertain for the start of the playoffs this weekend and will have his foot re-examined. Interesting that the Hawks have been tight lipped in regards to Pachulia's injury and he very well could be cleared in time to play against Boston but Atlanta could be reduced to its third string center should Pachulia not be able to go.
If the Hawks are without both Horford and Pachulia then Larry Drew may be forced to go with Josh Smith at center and use the same small lineup Atlanta used in a recent loss to the New York Knicks provided that Doc Rivers continues to start Kevin Garnett at the center position. Drew's other options would seem to be starting Jason Collins or going with Ivan Johnson. Collins doesn't appear to be a good fit against Garnett and Johnson has provided a bit of a spark off the bench while not starting a game the entire season. I am not sure that Drew would be willing to experiment at this point.
One of the biggest keys to the series will be which team wins the rebounding advantage. Boston ranks dead last in rebounding in the league but have held their own on the boards against Atlanta. Without Pachulia it becomes even more important for the Hawks that rebounding become a complete team effort. If the Hawks can't control the boards then the score might not be close enough for how they execute late to even matter.