Young stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown may shoulder most of the Celtics’ postseason burden, but 35-year-old Al Horford has been their unlikely X-factor.
In a must-win Game 4 that could’ve put the C’s in a 3-1 hole to the Bucks, an inspired Horford battled Giannis Antetokounmpo to a standstill and made several big buckets to even things up, finishing with a career- and team-high 30 points and eight rebounds.
Horford doesn’t always blow up the box score, but his intangible leadership and experience — particularly with star center Robert Williams injured — has more than vindicated GM Brad Stevens’ surprising splurge to lure him back to Boston.
- Horford’s $27 million salary is the second-highest on the roster.
- He’s owed $53 million through 2023 — he’ll be the third-highest-paid Celtic on the team next year.
- Horford became the oldest in Celtics postseason history with a 30-point game since John Havlicek (37) in 1977.
- His 53.5% 3PT is first among players still in the postseason (min. 3 3PA).
Stevens’ first move as executive was reacquiring Horford — whom he coached from 2016-19, including two Eastern Conference Finals appearances — while sending OKC Kemba Walker and a first-round pick.
Whatever happens from here, it’s arguably a win-win for the Celtics, who can rely on the veteran’s experience while building a perennial contender around a young core.