Entering Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Warriors had played a collective 123 games in the title series — the Celtics zero. So much for experience.
The C’s green (pun intended) squad stunned Golden State on the road to take a 1-0 lead, led by 15-year veteran Al Horford, who scored 26 points and knocked down a career-high six threes on eight attempts, the most in a Finals debut.
Frustrated in the playoffs during his first stint in Boston, Horford is now three wins from his first ring — and an extra $12 million.
- Horford will earn $7M in incentives if the C’s win the title.
- His $14.5M salary rose to $19.5M for winning the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Overall, Horford has the potential to earn a guaranteed $26.5M next year — which will be Boston’s third-highest salary.
First-year GM Brad Stevens, who coached Horford from 2016-19, took a calculated risk by bringing him back in exchange for former All-Star Kemba Walker — and it’s paying off in what his front-office predecessor Danny Ainge called a game-changing move.
And Horford’s defense made a major contribution to a final frame in which Boston held GS to 16 points — the most lopsided fourth quarter in Finals history. He’s leading the postseason in shots contested and FG% allowed.
The Celtics are now favorites (-190) to win it all after entering the series as underdogs (+130).