“It was great,” Horford said. “I took advantage. I made sure I gathered myself and it was awesome, I feel like it was a big lift for us.”
It was a highlight for Horford in a game that ranks among his best as a Celtic: 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting, 5 for 5 from the free-throw line, nine assists and seven rebounds. It was also an exclamation point to a Horford postseason revival in the Celtics’ last three wins, following the wave of criticism that dogged him after Boston lost the first two games of the series.
It’s a funny thing about NBA roster moves. For years, fans in Boston lamented the fact the team had been unable to lure top-tier free agents. They got one when the Celtics signed Horford, an All-Star for the Hawks last year, to a max $113 million contract. But many of those fans spent the year largely unimpressed with their big prize. Horford averaged just 14.0 points this season, one of his lowest outputs, and 6.8 rebounds, the fewest of his career.
Horford did average a career-high 5.0 assists, however, helping Boston’s offense as a facilitator rather than a finisher. So while there was disappointment among large swaths of Celtics backers, there was satisfaction from Horford’s coaches and teammates.
Let’s take a look at our predictions for each first-round matchup in the Western Conference NBA playoffs:
The Warriors enter the playoffs having won 15 of their last 16. That sort of dominance is exactly what teams should strive for heading into the playoffs, and Golden State has Kevin Durant back after a knee injury cost him all of March.