Al Horford’s redemption tour took a personal pitstop on Wednesday, December 2, when he and the Boston Celtics welcomed the Philadelphia 76ers into town. In many ways, Horford’s abbreviated stint in Philly was the starting point to the “washed” narrative that the veteran big man is currently dispelling.
The Sixers inked Horford to a lucrative four-year, $109 million deal back in 2019 with the idea that he’d serve as the perfect complement to Joel Embiid along their frontcourt. Instead, the marriage was doomed almost from the jump. The duo struggled to co-exist, leading to Horford being sent to the bench and ultimately shipped to Oklahoma City.
On Wednesday night, Horford reminded Philadelphia of the versatile skill set that originally piqued their interest a few years back. The former No. 3 overall pick was his usual steady self, finishing with 10 points (4-of-6 shooting), eight rebounds and five blocks. His — as well as Robert Williams’ — well-rounded efforts rattled Embiid and Philly’s offense, allowing the Cs to squeak by with a one-point victory while handing the Sixers their ninth loss in 12 games.
The Internet Has Its Fun With Horford-Embiid Showdown
Embiid finished the game with just 13 points on 3-of-17 shooting. Of the 26 possessions Horford matched up with Embiid, the four-time All-Star was limited to a mere five points on 1-of-7 shooting, as Barstool Sports’ Dan Greenberg highlighted. As one would expect, Horford’s lockdown defense on Embiid led to a number of comical takes from the always entertaining Twittersphere. Here are a few of the more notable ones, including input from Greenberg and Bleacher Report’s A. Sherrod Blakley:
“Al Horford continues his back-to-the-future play with a ‘you’ve been son’d’ performance in limiting Joel Embiid (13 pts, 3/17 shooting) in Boston’s 88-87 win,” Blakely wrote.
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Horford & Ime Udoka Talk Philly Stint
When asked by reporters whether he believed his reputation took a hit after his decision to jettison Boston for Philadelphia, Horford responded: “No question about it.”
“But it’s everything on me. It was my decision to leave [Boston], and it was like, how are you going to respond when you’ve been faced with adversity? Being down, being talked down about and those things. I was written off and I’m glad I got another opportunity in a place where I want to be. But no question about it, there’s also a lot of satisfaction being back here and playing at a high level,” he said via the Boston Globe.
Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, who was an assistant in Philadelphia during Horford’s failed stint, showed remorse for the way things played out for the wily veteran during their time together with the Sixers.
“None of us loved the way it went in Philadelphia for him, and the team in general,” Udoka admitted. “It sounded good. Joel, who missed about 20 games a year, so you had your backup in play that could also play with him. But we just never found our footing with him. I don’t think we used him properly with some of the matchups he had there. But when you’ve got a guy like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in the post, and in certain areas they’re taking away a lot of his space, so he’s kind of standing around at times. But you saw the flashes last year in Oklahoma City; he was a different player, back to himself.”