Al Horford may be medically cleared for contact work, but he's far from being ready to play, and he expressed his frustration.
"I had a deadline in my mind that I wanted to be back by the last game of the regular season … but I'm not where I need to be. That is a little frustrating to me."
Horford suffered a pectoral injury on Jan. 11, just 11 games into the season. He underwent surgery on Jan. 17. Atlanta has clinched its fifth-straight playoff berth, and the hope was that Horford would be able to rejoin the team by the postseason. That's still a possibility, but Horford hasn't given a timetable for when he can return. He expressed the importance of the shoulder when playing in the post, which is why although he is medically cleared for contact, he can't play yet.
The Hawks have four games remaining in the regular season, and the focus for the team is fourth place and earning home-court advantage in the first round, with or without Horford.