The Golden State Warriors may have entered the NBA Finals as the popular pick to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but it was clear from the outset that they would have their hands full with the Boston Celtics. Particularly with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the charge offensively.
And while Brown, especially, came through for them down the stretch of Game 1, it was 36-year-old Al Horford who paced the Beantowners to a 120-108 win.
In 33 minutes of play, the wily vet scored a team-high 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting while adding five rebounds, three assists and a steal. He also knocked down six three-point bombs in the contest, the most he has ever made in a game — playoffs or regular season.
Something definitely has to change if the Dubs don’t want Horford keying another fourth-quarter comeback or series-swinging win. To that end, Warriors big men Draymond Green and Kevon Looney are determined to right the ship.
Warriors Frontcourt Addresses Horford’s Outburst
Asked about Horford going off after the game, Green was seemingly at a loss. However, he maintained that the team would do its homework ahead of Game 2.
“I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll figure it out. Watch some film,” Green said. “But, you know, they have guys that put pressure on the rim, so you’re going to have to rotate him. We’ll have to figure out where our next rotation is coming from and do it.”
Missed rotations, slow close-outs and, at times, suspect screen-roll D all played a role in Horford achieving such a high level of success against Golden State. As Looney sees it, though, the Warriors need have a greater sense of urgency against him from the jump.
“Just mixing it up and make him uncomfortable early,” Looney said of slowing Horford. “I think he got settled in and made shots early and kind of had a rhythm the whole game.”
Of course, Horford deserves as much or more credit than the Dubs’ soft front for his big night.
“He’s a good shooter and a good playmaker. You have to kind of pick your poison with him. He’s a good right-hand driver,” added Looney.
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Atkinson the Favorite for Hornets Gig
Mike Brown may not be the only Warriors assistant set to depart Steve Kerr’s bench for a head-coaching opportunity elsewhere. Kenny Atkinson, who came to the club last summer after a one-year stint with the LA Clippers, may be on the verge of landing a new gig of his own.
Per a report from The Athletic‘s Shams Charania and Sam Amick, Atkinson has emerged as the “front-runner” for the Charlotte Hornets’ open job.
Atkinson, who has already interviewed with the Hornets on more than one occasion, is expected to “meet next week with team officials — including owner Michael Jordan — in the next step of his candidacy.”
The 55-year-old previously served as the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach from 2016 to 2020. During the 2018-19 campaign, he directed the club to a 42-40 record and its first playoff berth in four years.