Al Horford's Top 5 Moments with Boston
BOSTON – Al Horford doesn’t care about sharing the limelight. But he deserves to do so.
Horford recently completed his second season with the Boston Celtics, each of which included trips to the Eastern Conference Finals. He logged plenty of impressive performances and highlight moments along the way, and we’ve narrowed those down to the top five below.
5. Quieting the Critics vs. Philly
We begin in the Playoffs, where Al Horford tends to be at his best. Hence his nickname: Playoff Al.
Horford and the Celtics squared off with the red-hot Philadelphia 76ers on April 30, during Game 1 of the Conference Semifinals. Philadelphia was coming off of a convincing 4-1 series win over the Heat, and many were predicting that the 76ers were poised to knock the Celtics out, after they had just staved off elimination with a Game 7 win over Milwaukee two days prior.
Horford wasn’t interested in allowing those predictions to come to fruition.
During 33 minutes of action, Horford attempted 12 shots. He made 10 of them, including two from long distance. He punished Philadelphia’s defense to the tune of 26 points – one shy of his career high with Boston – and four assists. He also hauled in seven rebounds as the Celtics outscored the Sixers by 18 points while he was on the court.
The world was expecting the Celtics to have a hangover entering a new series against a hot team. Horford and his teammates had a different plan, and that victory during Game 1 set the table for the remainder of the series.
We’ll touch on more of that later.
4. Burning the Blazers at the Buzzer
There’s no better moment than hitting a game-winner at home, and that’s exactly what Horford did Feb. 4 at TD Garden.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the Celtics fell behind Portland early and trailed by as many as 16 points during the third quarter. They managed to claw back into the game heading into the fourth, and neither team led by more than six points during the final frame.
Damian Lillard scored a driving, and-one layup with 7.2 seconds left to give Portland a 96-95 lead. Boston called for a timeout, and on the ensuing inbound pass, C.J. McCollum used up Portland’s final foul to give with 4.0 seconds remaining to set up a dramatic finish.
Jaylen Brown then took the ball out in front of Boston’s bench and inbounded to Horford, who caught the ball while standing between the 3-point arc and the right elbow. Horford hesitated, took two dribbles on a right-handed drive, stopped on a dime, then spun back over his right shoulder for a fadeaway from the right elbow at the buzzer.
Horford’s teammates stormed the court and surrounded him in a celebration full of smiles after he capped their dramatic, comeback win at the Garden.
3. Stealing Magic from the Wizards
Boston and Washington met in the 2017 Conference Semifinals for a series that went down to the wire. It opened and ended with Celtics victories, and the opening win was due in large part to Horford’s incredibly efficient and well-rounded performance.
Horford nearly logged a triple-double with 21 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds during Game 1. He made 10 of his 13 shots from the field and shot 9-for-10 from inside the arc.
To put his efficiency into perspective, only one other player in the game made more field goals than Horford’s 10 (Isaiah Thomas, 11). Thomas, however, needed 10 more attempts than Horford to get there.
Horford’s shot, not the Wizards, was magical that day.
2. Clutch Efficiency During Game 7
Let’s stay in the Playoffs, but return to 2018. Are you sensing a trend here?
Boston and Milwaukee put their seasons on the line during Game 7 of their first-round series. Horford was a big reason why the C’s stayed alive.
Yet again during a playoff game, the big man teetered on his highest point total with Boston. He tied for the team high in scoring with 26 points, one shy of his high with the C’s, as he hit 13 of his 17 shots. His operated almost exclusively from inside the paint, where he made 11 of his 13 baskets against a Milwaukee defense that had no answers for him.
Horford also added in eight rebounds, three assists, a steal and a blocked shot as he led Boston into the second round.
1. No Confetti for Philly
Shortly after Philadelphia dropped confetti inside the Wells Fargo Center to celebrate what it believed was a game-winning 3-pointer during Game 3, Horford dropped the Sixers into an 0-3 series hole.
We fast-forward to overtime, where Boston gained possession while trailing by one with 8.4 seconds left in the game. Brad Stevens drew up a play for none other than Playoff Al.
Marcus Morris took the ball out along the sideline, and after Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum cleared out of the paint along with their defenders, Horford sealed Robert Covington off inside the paint. Morris tossed a pass over the top of Covington, and hauled it in from right in front of the rim. He absorbed some contact from Covington, and quickly rose up for a layup attempt from the left side of the rim. He dropped it off the backboard, off the front of the rim, and through the net as he fell to the floor with 5.5 seconds remaining.
Philadelphia went on to turn the ball over on its final possession, Horford added in two free throws, and the Celtics took total control of the series.
What a play, and what a moment – one that stands above the rest when it comes to Horford’s time in a Celtics jersey.