While there’s no concrete data to quantify it, after 74 years of prior history, NBA folklore states that the playoffs are where the true skills of a player are tested. The postseason arena magnifies every play call, every shot, and every mistake, providing a landscape that only the best can thrive in. Fifteen seasons into his All-Star career, Al Horford has proven his ability to play under the NBA’s brightest lights, making 13 playoff appearances.
Al Horford’s two-way brilliance in the 2022 NBA Playoffs
In his second stint with the Boston Celtics, the veteran big-man has been a key cog to the success of the Eastern Conference powerhouse. Through 10 contests, Horford is in the midst of arguably his best postseason stretch, boasting a statline of 13.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, as well as a combined 2.6 steals and blocks for good measure.
However, entering his latest campaign at age 35, there was apprehension surrounding what version of Horford the Celtics were inheriting. A mere two years prior, the former Gator had arguably his worst season as a pro, struggling mightily next to Joel Embiid on the Philadelphia 76ers.
In the following season, Horford found new life after being dealt to the now well-known NBA career-revitalization program in Oklahoma City. With the Thunder, the five-time All-Star was able to play free of pressure and expectation, putting together a productive 28-game stretch before being shut down as a means for OKC to turn to younger players in the nightly rotation.
Horford’s two-year roller coaster ride between stops with Boston is what makes this postseason run so unlikely. The dual-threat big-man has wound back the clock on both ends of the floor. The malleability he offers is essential to Boston’s elite half-court execution.
In this piece, I’ll provide a deeper insight into Horford’s incredible two-way impact and how his half-court play has given the Celtics the opportunity to knock off the defending champs.