Boston Celtics big man Al Horford has been big time during the 2018 NBA playoffs, showing doubters that he is very much worth his max contract.
There has been nothing average about Al Horford so far during the 2018 NBA playoffs. The Boston Celtics big man has been simply amazing in leading the team to a 4-3 series win over the Milwaukee Bucks and an impressive Game 1 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Coming into the playoffs without superstars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, Horford was vital to the team’s postseason success. Guess what? It appears this team will go as far as the man many call “Average” Al will take them.
Not only did he put together big performances in the playoff series against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, he kicked off the second-round matchup with one of his best playoff performances.
In the 117-101 Game 1 victory, the five-time All Star scored 26 points on 10-for-12 shooting. His aggressiveness offensively matched his solid defensive play as he showed off his versatility by guarding both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons at times. In leading a team both undermanned and young, Horford was on a mission Monday night as he has been all postseason.
“I feel like he’s really locked in,” Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said after the game. “He’s done a good job of knowing when to roll and post and play an interior spot, and then knowing when to pop and space.”
Displaying versatility on offense, Horford has been on target with a consistent jump shot. Most impressively, he has flexed his muscles with an aggressive low-post game. He also hasn’t been afraid to drive to the hoop. Take a look at the play below:
In all, Al Horford has averaged 19.1 points per game through 8 playoff games. His experience as well as his overall game is what is really keeping the Celtics afloat in these NBA playoffs.
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Al Horford’s greatest value has been his leadership. On a team consisting of very young players getting it done, the 31-year-old big man is providing wisdom through his words and play on the court.
Prior to Game 1, Horford gave some sound advice to a very disappointed Jaylen Brown, who was ruled out prior to the game due to a sore hamstring.
“Yeah, you know Jaylen is a competitor,” Horford said after the game, via NESN. “I know what he was doing everything he could to be out there. His health is most important and we didn’t want any setbacks with him. One of the things, when I talked to him I said, “hey, we obviously really need you out there, but we need you for the long run. We need you to be healthy and to feel good. We don’t want you to come back tonight and reaggravated and be out for a long period of time.’ Hopefully, now he has a couple days to recover and he’ll be back Thursday.”
That type of advice and leadership from a veteran is valuable for a young player. It will go a long way towards his development and confidence once he gets back on the court.
As the ultimate team player, Horford is doing all the little things while coming up big when necessary. He is not the flashy NBA superstar, but what he brings to the table as a competitor and leader is what makes his max deal worth it.