Al Horford countering Joel Embiid (mention Aron Baynes)
By no means did Al Horford put up better numbers than Joel Embiid. Al had a combined 77 points, 43 rebounds, 17 assists, 9 steals, 6 blocks, and shot 56 percent. Embiid finished his five games with 115 points, 80 rebounds, 18 assists, 3 steals, 6 blocks, and shot 44 percent.
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The biggest part of this battle was when the points came and how hard each player had to work. Horford was as reliable as could be in the fourth quarter, serving as a insurance policy down in the low post. By no means did the offense revolve around him, but it was always there if the Celtics needed it. When they went to Horford down the stretch, he delivered with his suddenly unstoppable post hook.
Embiid, on the other hand, was not as effective. Sure, he scored way more than Horford, but on way more touches. Some possessions for Philly for post ups for Embiid, that was it. If he scored, it was a positive outcome. If he missed, (again, he shot 44 percent from the field) it was a one and done possession. That almost never happened with Horford.
The other part of this is that Embiid was clearly tired in the fourth quarter. Horford drove by Embiid easily several times. Aron Baynes, who also deserves a good amount of credit for limiting Embiid, was able to stop him without too much trouble. All series, Baynes and Horford never gave a clear path to the basket. They stayed in front of Embiid, forcing plenty of tough shots that usually missed.
Al Horford was the most important player of the series for the Celtics, maybe even both teams. he doesn’t deserve any backlash or slander until he isn’t trying on defense or making plays on offense. Until then, every Boston Celtics fan should love Playoff Al.