Celtics Horford returns the clock and bucks

On Monday night, early in the second half of the 4th game of the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks star Gianni Antetocumpo hit the floor and the ball hit Al Horford, the center of the 35-year-old Boston Celtics. Two-time Most Valuable Player Award Slowdown.

Bax had all the momentum in the game and was on the verge of being put on the Celtics rope in the series.

And then Antetocumpo miscalculated. He stared at his dunk at Horford with a dagger and got the technical means of ridicule. Horford looked straight back and nodded several times.

“I really did not like the way he looked at me and how he was going,” Horford told reporters after the game. “And in that moment I think something has changed with me.”

Horford performed one of the best performances of his career. He scored 16 of 30 points in the fourth quarter, beating the Celtics 116-108 to tie the series at 2-2.

At least two of his points were paid directly to Antetokounmpo: Dunk in the fourth quarter On top of the Bax star, who saw the normally restrained Horford scream.

In Horford’s previous 131 playoff games he had never accumulated 30 points in a single game. However, by doing so he might have saved the Celtics season.

“We love Al,” said Celtics defender Marcus Smart. “She is the best veterinarian we have ever had. The best vet ever. As you know, he comes in and never changes with him. Things are going badly or well, he will be it. It will work in our favor nine out of 10 times. ”

Monday’s play was made all the more remarkable by the fact that entering the 2020-21 season, Horford was in the basketball desert.

He has just ended a disappointing season with the Philadelphia 76ers after signing a contract worth more than $ 100 million. Horford, a five-time All-Star, was transferred to rebuilding the Oklahoma City Thunder, which had little use of the aging center in the 1930s. The Sixers had to attach a first-round draft for the Thunder to consider the deal. And then Horford closed in the middle of the season. Not because he was injured or playing poorly. But because it did not fit in Oklahoma City.

Brad Stevens, the new president of the Celtics, has replaced Kemba Walker, another former all-star with limited productivity in recent years, to Horford, a player he played for Boston from 2016 to 2019 for three seasons.

It was thought to be a low impact move. What can the past, a slowly moving center, give the Celtics young team that will become more athletic?

Quite a bit, it turned out. In the regular season, Horford started 69 games in Boston, helping him to one of the best defenses in the league. In the first round against the Nets, Horford averaged 13 points and 7.5 rebounds and 60 percent with 3 points.

“I feel like last summer, I realized I needed to take it to another level,” Horford said. “We really started the summer and just continued the season. And now these are the moments I want to be a part of. ”

His motivation, he added, was simple: “It’s like sitting at home. This is from the playoff ears. “It’s because I did not know what to expect from my future and only hoped that I would be able to be in that kind of environment.”

Against the Bucks, Horford was Antetocumpo’s main defender. This is a more difficult match than we might expect: Antetokoumpo can not scare Horford as easily as most defenders. And Horford, even at this point in his career, is mobile enough to limit Antetocumpo speed over long distances.

Antetocump scored 34 points on Monday, but needed 32 shots to win it.

At the same time, Horford’s biggest contribution was his shooting. On Monday, Horford made 5 of 7 3-point attempts. The rest of the combo went to 9:30. On several occasions, Horford baskets came when it looked like Bax was on the verge of withdrawal.

In order for the Celtics to win this series, they have to keep hitting deep jumps as they do not get consistent access to the basket, due to the defense of Antetocumpo, former defender of the year and Brooke Lopez, the Bucks rings. High center.

In Game 2, the Celtics scored 20 of 43 from behind the 3-point line – an exceptional 46.5 percent. They won the game by blasting. When Horford scored in Game 4, the Celtics were able to stretch the floor again, which allowed Jason Tatum to find more space to navigate the paint. He recovered from an unfortunate 3rd game on Monday with Horford with 30 points, including a few key baskets.

However, several red Boston flags remain in the series. Both of his victories required unusual games – an unusually good 3-pointer and Horford’s brilliance in Game 4 – and the Bucks still have the best players on both teams at Antetokounmpo.

Milwaukee, because of its size, also made it easier to enter the alley. This creates a more credible offense and puts pressure on officials to appoint foals.

And other Boston players will need shots. It is unlikely that the 35-year-old Horford will be able to maintain Monday’s pace, both in shooting and in scoring. And in most games, if Horford is the best player on the Boston team with Tatum and Jalen Brown, something is not right.

Just not on Monday night.

“Al, man,” said Smart, praising Horford even more. He has been doing this for a long time and realizes what the game and the team bring. And we need the last part of it every night as much as we can. So this is big, big, big, big, big, and I mean that, the big key, to be with us. “

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