When the Celtics signed Al Horford to a max contract last summer, they knew the 6-foot-10 center would make an immediate impact, but few expected him to help lead the team to the Eastern Conference finals.
That’s exactly what he and this Celtics team did, and while they fell short of their ultimate goal, Horford views his first year in Boston as a success.
“I’m proud of our group,” Horford said to reporters following the Celtics’ 135-102 loss to Cleveland in Game 5 on Thursday night. “I felt like we grew as the year went on. Not the way that we wanted to finish, but I felt like we came a long way from the beginning of the year, and we came together, and that was fun to be a part of.”
Horford finished the regular season averaging 14 points, 6.8 rebounds and five assists per game, but perhaps his most significant contribution was on the defensive end. He served as an anchor for a young Celtics team in search of tough big men and many of the things Horford does best do not show up on the box score. He is one of the best passing big men in the NBA, and his versatility was evident throughout the playoffs.
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Wizards was the quintessential Horford game. The 30-year-old shot 6-of-9 from the field, dropped 21 points and was one assist away from a triple-double.
Though his rebounding numbers were the lowest of his career this season, he found his niche in Boston. His outside shot has improved in recent years, and his ability to drain the three consistently helps stretch the defense and spread the floor. He shot .355 from 3-point range during the regular season, but upped that percentage to .519 during the playoffs.
Horford, who had been swept by LeBron James four times as a member of the Hawks before this series, knows a thing or two about James’ dominance in the Eastern Conference. Does he think this Celtics team has what it takes to dethrone the King next season?
“You know, that’s a good question,” Horford said. “We think we have a good group of guys, guys that compete, that play hard, and we still have to keep growing as a group, getting better and we obviously see that the team to get past is Cleveland. Right now we’re not there. We’re not where we need to be, but I’m proud of our guys.”
Full article @ Al Horford reflects on his first year in green: ‘I’m proud of our group’
Source: GreenStreet Blog