BOSTON – The Boston Celtics Weekend Celebrating the Second Half of the Week Milwaukee Bucks.
There was plenty of talk about it after the Celtics came out and blew the doors off the Charlotte Hornets. Al horford after a seven-game absence with a knee injury.
"You take a lot of Comfort in having him out on the floor, "Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
Kyrie Irving delivered the most pointed criticism of the Celtics' recent play in a postgame meeting for which the team kept the locker room closed to the media for 36 minutes.
Joel Embiid is Not shooting 3s this season, so he has decided to make life even more miserable for defenders inside.
It's fitting that Horford made his way back to the hubbub about meetings, and while another starter, Marcus Morris , who sat out the two games with a knee issue.
His impact on the Celtics, though, is that it does not matter. " can not be overstated.
Horford has always been a player in the league with the Atlanta Hawks more than a decade ago, who has filled in whatever gaps his team has needed him to. That's no different in Boston, where Horford provides the Celtics with both elite passing and spacing at the center offensively – not to mention a defense that once again ranks among the NBA's best.
His presence was a big part of why Milwaukee's defense Friday night. The Celtics beat the Bucks here in Boston on Nov. 1 – and there was no coincidence. Ditto Boston's Philadelphia 76ers the past two years – and why his return, coming on the eve of Boston's rematch with Philadelphia in a Christmas Day showdown, could not have come to a better time as far as the Celtics are concerned.
"It's tough when there are so many guys in and out of the lineup and so many things [changing]," Horford said. Marcus Morris being back, that's huge for us, me being back obviously. [Aron] Baynes is out now but at least we are
Kyrie Irving catches fire in the first and drops 17 points against the Hornets.  There have been plenty of things contributing to Boston's wild swings back and forth throughout this season hence far. Arguably the biggest, though, has been Horford's play. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward – The Celtics are a far different team. This season, though, has been viewed as hampered by his balky knee, which is labeled as patellofemoral pain syndrome during his recent seven-game hiatus.
Between Philadelphia's Joel Embiid, Milwaukee's Brook Lopez, Toronto's Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas, and Indiana's Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, Boston, USA, wants to make a difference
The NBA has the star-studded matchups on Christmas Day:
• Christmas Day schedule: MIL-NY | OKC-HOU | PHI-BOS | LAL-GSW | POR-UTAH
• Hang Time: Jayson Tatum goes shopping
• LeBron's $ 765 million empire in L.A.
• Inside P.J. Tucker's sneaker collection
• The Bucks are great and Giannis is brooding
• OKC has an MVP candidate – it's not Russ
• KD and Draymond's rift was never to break the Warriors
To that end Horford playing well – he put up 10 points while making all four shots he took to six rebounds and five assists in 19 minutes –
"It's very helpful, that's time off," he said. Sitting on the sidelines is tough, not being able to on the court helping the guys ]
|Celtics lineups||Smart / Morris||Brown / Hayward|
|"I'm just happy to be back playing." Minutes||93||139|
|Net Rating||19.0  -3.5|
|>> Both lineups include Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford|
The Celtics are just as happy as they are at the back, too Sixers (Embiid), Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks, Horford will have pl
No matchup wants garner more scrutiny than Tuesday's holiday matchup with Embiid, though. Philadelphia in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, The Sixths Again on Opening Night, Boston, USA, says it can not beat the Celtics.
"This is not a rivalry," Embiid said.
"They always kick our ass."
He averaged 16.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 49 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3 against Philadelphia in four regular-season games, and then shot over 56 percent against the Sixers in Boston's five-game series victory.
Embiid, meanwhile, averaged 23 points in that series, but needed 21 shots per game to do so – which is exactly what it did in Philadelphia's season-opening loss between the two teams.
"It's great," Horford said of going up against Embiid. " a lot of respect for Joel. I've always been a big fan of his game, and just how he is.
"It's one of those games, it's one of those games, it's nationally It's one of those fun games, and it's good for us. "
What's better for the Celtics is that they'll have Horford on the court for it. Whether or not Boston can keep things that way moving forward, it has a much greater impact on this team, and its season, than any discussion ever could.