After suffering a brutal loss on Saturday, the Boston Celtics bounced back with a big-time Game 4 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. They entered the fourth quarter down by seven points and proceeded to outscore the Bucks 43-28 in the fourth quarter.
Boston’s inspiring comeback was led by Al Horford, who dropped a playoff career-high with 30 points. What’s even more impressive is that 16 of his 30 points came in the fourth quarter, where he shot 6-of-6 from the field and 2-of-2 from three-point land.
Horford shot 11-of-14 from the field and 5-of-7 from deep in the game, adding eight rebounds and three assists as well. He also drew the assignment of guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo, who he battled back and forth with all night long.
The 35-year-old’s teammates weren’t shy when giving him his flowers. After the game, Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum didn’t hold back when discussing Horford’s clutch performance.
Tatum Praises Horford’s Performance
During his post-game press conference, Tatum spoke highly of Horford. He said that the veteran center has helped the team a lot this year and that he’s lucky to call him a teammate:
Al’s been great for the team. Al’s been great for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with Al for three years. And I remember coming in my rookie year and seeing Al Horford. I’d been seeing him play my whole life. And it was great to see somebody take care of their body, you know, just be the ultimate professional, the ultimate teammate. Just all about the right things. Nobody can ever say anything bad about Al. He’s helped me a great deal in the three years that we’ve played together. I’m very lucky and fortunate to be able to call Al a teammate.
This isn’t the first time Tatum and Horford have been teammates. Horford was with the Celtics for Tatum’s first two seasons in the NBA before signing a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2019 offseason. He was then shipped off to the Oklahoma City Thunder just one year later.
This past offseason, Horford returned to the Celtics when Brad Stevens traded Kemba Walker and the 16th-overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft to the Thunder for him. In his first year back in Boston, the big man averaged 10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while shooting 46.7% from the field and 33.6% from deep.
After the game, Tatum wasn’t the only Celtics player to sing Horford’s praises. Boston point guard Marcus Smart also had plenty to say about his teammate’s masterful Game 4.
Smart Discusses Horford’s Importance
The Celtics’ starting point guard gushed about Horford’s importance to Boston’s success on Monday night. He said that Horford is the ‘best vet he’s ever had’:
Man, we love Al. He’s the best vet we’ve ever had. The best vet I’ve ever had. He comes in, and it never changes with him. Things are going bad or good, he’s going to be him. And nine times out of ten, that’s going to work out in our favor. So, we very much need it of him. He came through big for us and helped us secure this win tonight.
At 35 years old, Horford is the oldest player on the Celtics, and he’s provided a calming presence for them throughout the playoffs. In four games against the Bucks, he’s averaged 18.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists while shooting 54.9% from the field and 50.0% from three-point range.
With Horford’s vast amount of playoff experience, the Celtics have had a steady hand to fall back on. He’s combined to score 52 points over the last two games, and if Boston wants to win this series against Milwaukee, they’re going to need him to keep up this high level of play.