One may just look at the box score and assume this was a very good game for Horford, but a closer look at the game itself brings some very concerning issues to light. While Horford did play a large part in leading his team to victory, mainly with his strong rebounding and weakside presence on the defensive end, he struggled mightily trying to contain Greg Oden in the post. Horfords post defense has widely been considered one of his greatest strengths, though when you look at this game alongside Randolph Morris 18-point game against Horford earlier in the season, its not as easy to view it as an aberration, considering these are two of the toughest post players Horford has played against at Florida.
This wasnt the first time Oden matched up against Horford, as he scored 11 points on him earlier in the season in a 60-88 Ohio State loss. Oden didnt get much of anything going in the post in that game, but the difference here was that Oden now has the use of both of his hands, and that hes a less raw offensive player than he was then. Horford gave up points to Oden on the interior on many occasions in this game, most of them coming when Oden simply got better position than Horford did down low, where it would only take one step for him to get close enough to the basket to score on a lay-up or dunk. Horford unsuccessfully tried to front Oden at times, which would usually lead to Horford losing his position when he went back to playing straight up, letting Oden get the inside track. Horford also gave up a hook shot to Oden on one occasion. To Horfords credit, he did force Oden into one travel in the post, and held his position well one or two times, mainly when he established better position prior to the entry pass, but his post defense was for the most part exposed against the 70 monster.
While Horford had trouble keeping Oden from scoring in the post, one area where Horford was not intimidated was on the glass. Horford actually went up to pull down multiple rebounds on both ends of the court, some over Oden and others with him in the direct vicinity. Horford came up with some very clutch rebounds down the stretch, where he fully used his length, athleticism, and timing along with a relentless hustle to help secure the game for his team. Horford did a good job boxing out when near the basket, and tracking down rebounds that flew away from the hoop.
Horford also was a strong presence on the weakside on the defensive end, heavily contesting more than a handful of shots over the course of the game, while also earning two blocks in the official box score, though many would contend there were a few more. Horford showed off his mobility by blocking cutters coming through the lane, as well as by making some post blocks on smaller players who tried to score when he was near the basket. Horford showed off a bit of his versatile perimeter defense for a big man by going step-for-step with Ivan Harris on a drive starting from behind the three-point arc early in the first half, forcing him into a missed shot from the middle of the lane.
On the offensive end, Horford started off the game shooting the ball from mid-range, as hes grown accustomed to doing over the past few months. He missed an array of shots from 15 to 18 feet early in the game, though hit two of them as the game went on. In the post, Horford had trouble getting things going when matched up with Oden, being blocked on one occasion, in which he dived on the floor to grab the loose ball and recover the possession for his team. Horford did most of his work on the inside when Oden was out of the game, as he went to quick work on the Ohio State reserves when he had the chance, scoring a nice lefty lay-up off the glass on a spin move on one occasion and drawing a foul on another spin move from eight feet out on another. Horford also hit a running 12-foot floater with the shot clock winding down late in the game.
While Horford played well in most areas for his team, and was one of the driving forces leading his team to victory, aside teammate Corey Brewer of course, he was also exposed in one key area that could shake up his NBA draft stock. Because he showed similar issues against another NBA post player in Randolph Morris earlier in the season, this is something NBA teams will look at more closely in making their evaluations. Horfords normal style of defense in the post is to play with his hands up and by keeping his body in front of his man, forcing them into tough shots. That clearly didnt work here against Greg Oden, and its an adjustment hes going to have to make at the next level, using more physicality and adding some more strength to his excellent frame to maintain his position down low. Theres a chance this could push him down a few spots in the lottery, but he still has all the defensive tools in the world, excellent basketball IQ, and a great motor, which will allow him to learn to make those adjustments at the next level, should he have the right coaching.