By Nick Adamopoulos –
Al Horford, known by many around these parts as “Average Al”, was anything but average last evening, as Horford was one of the key sparks that propelled the Boston Celtics to a 116-108 Game 4 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. The series will resume Wednesday evening tied at two games apiece.
Horford was tied for the team lead in points in Gam 4 with 30 to go along with 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Jayson Tatum was able to push through another rough shooting night to chip in 30 points of his own to go along with 13 rebounds and 5 assists. Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart each contributed 18 points. The Bucks were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 34 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 assists.
While the Celtics continued to show a commitment to looking for the open shooter on the offensive end, and playing team defense when facing the Greek Freak, it was the reacquired Horford who stood out throughout the game. Horford and Tatum combined for 26 of the Celtics’ 43 fourth quarter points. Horford’s 30 points were a career playoff high, and the veteran was efficient from all over the court. Horford finished 11 of 14 shooting and 5 of 7 from behind the three-point arc. For the playoffs Horford is shooting over 50% from behind the arc.
Horford’s signature moment came with just under ten minutes remaining in the fourth period. The Bucks at the time were up 80-79, when Horford got the ball at the top of the key. With former defensive player of the year Antetokounmpo guarding him, Horford drove to the basket and slammed home a massive dunk. Following the dunk, Horford let out a primal scream, the play changed the entire momentum of the game, with the Celtics expanding the lead over the final 10 minutes of the game. Following the game, Tatum and Smart had nothing but praise for Horford who is the oldest player on the roster. Tatum going as far as inferring that Horford is one of the more reliable and important players in the Celtics’ locker room.
Horford’s evening was special. This was his first 30-point effort in his entire playoff career. Horford also became the oldest Celtics’ player to score over 30 points in the playoffs. The 16 fourth quarter points score tied Horford’s career high for fourth quarter points in the regular season or playoffs. Horford was forced to play more minutes and to defend Antetokounmpo more often after Robert Williams was declared unable to play prior to the start of the game. Horford, who was reacquired prior to the start of the season, was able to rise to the occasion and showcased a vintage Al Horford performance.
The Celtics were on the brink of leaving Milwaukee does 3 games to 1 in the series. But with an incredible team effort, the series now shifts back to Boston tied. The momentum of the series, which has seesawed back and forth between the two franchises, now appears to be on Boston’s side. The Celtics are also hopeful to have Robert Williams return for Wednesday evening’s game.
The Celtics were on the verge of back-to-back loses last night. Al Horford willed his team to a victory. In Game 4, Al was anything but average for the Celtics.