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Al Horford

Celtics center Al Horford not too old for history

Dominican center Al Horford helps Celtics reach Eastern Conference Finals

After Al Horford was subbed out with 48 seconds left in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Boston Celtics center gave his father, Tito, a high-five and greeted him with a soft hug on his way to the bench.

Seconds later, Celtics’ fans were chanting “MVP! MVP! MVP!” at the raucous TD Garden, Wednesday night. The MVP chants weren’t for superstars Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown. They were for Al Horford.

“It’s special when you’re here at the Garden,” Horford said after the Celtics’ 113-98 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. “This is something I just don’t take for granted. The energy of our fans. … I just felt very connected with them tonight.

“The way we were playing, the way we got it going, I felt like there was that connection there. There were just a few times that I wanted … to be embraced by them in those moments and that fuels me. And that fuels our team. It was pretty, pretty special here tonight.”

Al Horford delivers historic output

The native of the Dominican Republic scored 22 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and had five assists. He also had three blocks and one steal. He shot 53 percent from the field and made six 3-pointers behind the arc.

In addition, Horford made NBA history in his 177th career playoff game. The 17-year veteran became the oldest player to score 20 or more points, grab at least 10 rebounds, and hit at least five 3-pointers with at least five assists in a playoff game, passing NBA great LeBron James.

The former first rounder was honored by the history he bestowed. Horford was pleased with the way he contributed to help the Celtics reach their third straight Eastern Conference Finals.


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“It feels great because we won,” Horford chuckled. “That’s the only satisfaction I get out of it. I’m happy because I was able to help the team win this game.”

Horford’s vitality and leadership was displayed in every play. The 6-foot-9 big man was clapping his hands, pumping his fist, and making critical plays to pump up the crowd. Horford said he felt as though the team was lacking energy in the first half. However in the second half, during timeouts, Horford reassured his teammates to come out of the huddle with energy.

“Obviously his character,” Tatum said of what he’s learned from Horford. “How he treats everybody and how everybody respects him. He always puts the team first. He’s always been like that. He truly does whatever it takes for the team to be better.”

Strong 2007 Draft class

Al Horford, a two-time NCAA champion, is one of five active players from the 2007 NBA Draft class. The others are Kevin Durant and Thaddeus Young with the Phoenix Suns. Mike Conley with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Jeff Green with the Houston Rockets.

Horford is in his sixth season with the Celtics organization. Celtics head coach Joe Mazulla has spent the last three years coaching him. Mazulla watches Horford’s daily routine and notices the way he carries himself. 

“Al leads instrumentally,” Mazulla said of Horford. “Tonight you saw his gift. His gift is just passion, inspiration, toughness, competitive nature. … I thought he started it for us, and all the guys responded well. Grateful for Al.”

The Cavaliers had no answer for the 37-year-old center. Cleveland made an adjustment at halftime, but Horford was too much to handle. 

“He’s a winner,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Horford. “I can’t say enough about the way that he played tonight. Just watching him chase down loose balls, and make extra effort plays. He understood the moment and has the ability on both ends of the floor to impact winning at a high level.”

The five-time All-Star made his first appearance in the NBA Finals two years ago, becoming the first Dominican in the Finals. Horford is now one series away from returning to basketball’s biggest stage and possibly becoming the first Dominican to win the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Photo courtesy Boston Celtics.

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