Al Horford delivered on all levels in a game one victory against the Milwaukee Bucks
The Boston Celtics just finished one of the most thrilling games of the season, and maintained they home court advantage against the Milwaukee Bucks. As they have been doing it all season long, the Celtics had to come through in the clutch, and close it out with a great overtime performance.
Terry Rozier hit the big shot, with a step back move that gave him more space than anyone needed. That was after Marcus Morris made game changing plays on both ends in the closing minutes.
Khris Middleton made sure to keep it as close as possible, but the Celtics made sure they did just enough to secure that victory. The Celtics collectively played great at times, with every player needed stepping up at important moments.
Al Horford, however, was the one player who set the tone on both ends, and made sure absolutely everything had to be done. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Middleton put up great numbers, but Horford made sure it was never easy, and disrupted then any time he needed to.
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Horford stuffed the stats sheet in a way that we are accustomed to seeing from him, with 12 rebounds four assists, two steals, three blocks, and 24 points on just eight shots. Horford made every right decision, got all his teammates involved, and made sure to hit every shot he needed.
He hit the free throws he needed to at the end, bringing the all around two way impact that makes him worth every penny of that max contract. It is not a coincidence that so many of the young players were ale to get comfortable, because Horford facilitated things on both ends, and made everything easier on all those around him.
The Celtics have proven they have enough shooters, and they do not need any one player to be hitting 30 points on a nightly basis for their offense to be good. They still have five or six players they can trust to hit their open shots, and get into double digit scoring.
Horford understands how this team needs to function as well as anyone, and Brad Stevens is able to use one of the most unique skill sets in the NBA to open everything up for these secondary players that still need some help.
It was a streaky game on both ends, but we should expect that the rest of the way. Neither of these teams have the consistent shooters that will allow them to sustain their best for a full game. The Celtics staggered good defensive quarters, and almost blew it by giving up 33 points in the fourth quarter.
What mattered most was the Celtics always made sure that it was within reach, and they could play the way the wanted too. Horford made sure to get the offense going when it looked like the Bucks might start pulling away, and he was always there to make sure the Bucks could not get anything easy on offense, no matter what the situation.
The Celtics knew that Horford would have to be special to win anything in the playoffs, and he delivered in game one. Horford will always make sure to adapt what he is doing according to whatever the team needs, and if he is able to execute and get the players around him to execute the way he did on both ends, the Celtics should be able to get out of the first round.