Al Horford is sleeping a lot better these days – thanks to the absence of the sling that protected his surgically-repaired left shoulder.
The Hawks All-Star center began rehabilitation on the injury that is projected to keep him out 3-4 months, perhaps allowing him to return for the playoffs. The next step in his recovery began six weeks after the operation.
“The doctor told me you can’t look at the finish line,” Horford said Friday. “You kind of want to look at different hurdles. The first one was the six-week mark. Now I can actually start doing stuff. He said a month from now, he will re-evaluate me and then he will probably clear me to get on the court and start doing some shooting and start getting that upper-body strength back. He said 3-4 months initially and so far I’m right on track.”
Horford said he is doing work with strength bands and light weights but is mostly doing cardio work.
“Just kind of getting [the shoulder area] fired up and a lot of cardio, that’s the biggest thing,” Horford said “Just getting my conditioning going again. It’s going to take awhile just to get out there and start shooting again.”
Many have said Horford looks as if he has lost weight but he insists it’s just lost muscle tone from not lifting weights for so long.
Sitting and watching has not been easy, as you would expect, especially during the Hawks’ recent struggles.
“It’s taken patience,” Horford said. “It’s given me a chance to look at our team and really has me more motivated to come back and come back with a lot of energy, bring some of that for the team. It’s just made me realize how much I miss playing and being in the locker room.”
What has been missing? Horford’s answer may sound familiar.
“I think that when we play with energy we are usually OK,” he said. “We’ve struggled really bad when we come out with no energy, no ball movement. I felt the last game [against the Warriors] we got a little stagnant just trying to throw the ball into the post. I think we are at our best when we are moving the ball around. It’s very obvious. I think it’s been like that for a couple of years, even when I’m playing. When we move the ball we win. When we hold and try to post somebody we struggle. I think it’s more frustrating because I’m not playing. I feel like I can’t do anything about it.”
Horford, who missed his 25th game Friday, has played just 11 games this season after suffering the injury against the Pacers on Jan. 11. He underwent surgery on six days later and says there is no scar from the procedure. He was averaging 12.4 points and 7.0 rebounds before being injured.