When the off-season started, a lot of people thought the Philadelphia 76ers had to make some changes. The 76ers got knocked out in the second-round in the 2019 playoffs due to the luckiest Kawhi Leonard bounce(s). Elton Brand had some big decisions to make, as things were circling around about Jimmy Butler’s return to Philadelphia. So Brand made the decision to sign-and-trade Butler for Josh Richardson to get that reliable “three-and-D” Shooting Guard. And yet there was another signing that gave the 76ers more championship expectations; Al Horford. Brand signed Horford to a four-year, $109 million contract that would shift momentum. Or so he thought anyways.
You see, Horford was the one guy throughout Joel Embiid’s career that could slow him down. We saw it in the 2018 Playoffs, where Embiid had to work for everything he got. Horford was taken away from the Boston Celtics and came into help solidify their defense as well as hit some three’s and spread the floor. There is just one problem that I have noticed: so far it isn’t working.
To be fair to Horford to start off, he has been dealing with knee injury throughout the season. He is also on a brand-new team with a coach that isn’t as great as Brad Stevens. But offensively, Horford has never been worse and he knows it. His shooting numbers are worse than they ever been. He has career-lows across the board and has given the 76ers nothing.
There have been games this year where Horford has been abysmal shooting the ball. On Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers, he was no help as Horford shot 2/12 from the field with 5 points. Sadly, this isn’t the first game of Horford shooting around that 20 percent mark. Against the Utah Jazz earlier in the season, he shot 3/14 and the next game against Denver Nuggets he shot 3/12. A week later, he shoots 5/18 against the Orlando Magic. How about a couple weeks ago at Brooklyn to play the Nets? 5/15 from the field. All of these games I mentioned for Horford ended up in losses.
Offensively, the 76ers aren’t clicking and it’s apparent. Some games they look like the contenders we are all waiting for; then there is some games they aren’t at all. Maybe going into 2020 they turn a new leaf and go on a magical, unstoppable run. Despite everything I said, this defense can still lock-down with the best of them. Horford is included in that, it just hasn’t been fully shown like it has when he was in Boston.
The 76ers sit at the 5th seed right now in the East and they play their fourth away game in a row. This time against a Houston Rockets team that isn’t afraid to shoot. They’re now at three losses in a row as well, and the team has fluctuated in happiness and trade rumors every day. Whether it’s Ben Simmons, Richardson, or Horford, 76ers fans are not happy.
It just makes me wonder if Brand and the 76ers made a mistake of letting Butler go to the Heat. Horford has been known to have these horrible stat-lines during the regular season from time to time though. This isn’t new for Horford. But he’s never been upset with the offense quite-like he has in Phildelphia. The post-season is Horford’s time to shine, but this has gone worse than expected so far.