The Boston Celtics had their most thrilling victory of the postseason when they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-108 on May 9 to tie their series 2-2. Their surge in the fourth quarter powered a 15-point swing, as they outscored the Bucks 43-28 in the last 12 minutes of the game. The Celtics would not have pulled this off without the brilliant play of Al Horford.
In 42 minutes, Horford scored 30 points – a playoff career-high for him – to go with eight rebounds and 5-for-7 shooting from three-point land. He also made the signature play that sparked Boston’s comeback in the fourth quarter – dunking on Giannis Antetokounmpo for an and-1.
However, his sister Anna Horford believes there was a play earlier in the game that marked the moment where the Bucks messed up. After Giannis posterized Horford to put the Bucks up 54-48 in the third quarter, Giannis proceeded to make a mean face at Horford – which earned him a technical – to which Horford just frowned and said, “Okay,” and went on his way. Anna believes that this sequence was what pushed Al to perform at the level that he did.
Given that they are family, and knowing what happened not too long after this, it’s hard not to think Anna might have been on the money here.
Horford’s Defense on Giannis Continues to Pay Dividends
One of the primary reasons why the Celtics brought back Al Horford to begin with was because of the reliable defense he has played on star frontcourt players like Giannis in the past.
Although there was skepticism that Al could still do it at 35. However, it’s clear that even at 35 years old – Horford will be 36 in less than a month – it appears Horford still hasn’t slipped at all defensively when matched up against the Bucks’ two-time MVP. According to StatMuse, Giannis has struggled mightily when covered by Horford.
Covering a physical freak like Giannis Antetokounmpo has not been an easy task for anyone in the NBA since he entered his prime. Yet, even while in his mid-30s, Al Horford makes Giannis earn every single point he can get when the Greek Freak is matched up with him.
Horford Makes Celtics and NBA History With Game 4 Performance
Hardly anyone believed coming into this season that Al Horford could perform at a high level at 35 years old. After his excellent, potentially season-saving performance against the Bucks in Game 4, Al not only proved he still can, but he even managed to get his name into the record books both with the Celtics and the NBA.
With the 30 points he scored in Game 4, Horford is the second-oldest Celtic to score 30 points in a playoff game, according to StatMuse.
That’s impressive knowing how many Celtics are in the Hall of Fame. Next, Horford made NBA history as the oldest player to score 30 points, grab eight rebounds and put up a field goal percentage of 75 percent at 35 years old. The previous record-holder was Celtic legend Robert Parish.
Horford’s production is even more surprising remembering what the public perception of him was only two years ago. After Al Horford’s tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers went as disastrously as it could have for both sides, many thought Horford’s best days were behind him. After the year he’s had in Boston both in the regular season and post-season, it’s clear Al still has plenty of juice left in the tank.
It should also make one think about what could have been if the Celtics had kept Horford from 2019 onward.