Al Horford got his first start for the Boston Celtics when they faced the Brooklyn Nets on November 4, filling in for Derrick White. After the Celtics beat their division rival, Al Horford talked to CLNS Media’s Bobby Manning about his approach to his new bench role.
“My biggest thing is, at the beginning of the game, you should try to establish yourself and establish the pace of the game,” Horford told Manning in a November 4 story. “When I’m coming in now as a sub, it’s to just bring energy, make sure that our energy goes up, that our intensity continues. That we keep building in what the first unit did. That’s, I guess, the difference, but as far as preparation and everything is the same. You’re a competitor at the end of the day. You want to be in certain positions.”
Horford added that he doesn’t feel like he’s a part of the second unit because of who’s out there with him.
“For me, I’m trying to impact winning and to help our team. Right now, it’s for me to be in the position, and that’s what I’m doing. It’s one of those things that the more games that we play, the more comfortable we’ll become, the more comfortable we’ll be with the system and what coach is trying to do. Usually, either (Jayson Tatum) is in there, or (Jaylen Brown) is in there, or Jrue, maybe two or three (starters) are in there. So it hasn’t been a true, I feel, second unit thing.”
Horford picked up right where he left off when he filled in as a starter, posting a game-high plus-minus of plus-29.
Jayson Tatum Singles Out Al Horford
After the Celtics beat the Nets, Jayson Tatum singled out Al Horford, explaining Horford’s impact on his career.
“I love Al. Like, that’s one of my favorite teammates of all time. He’s a big reason for my personal success, for everybody’s success, and the ultimate team guy. And we’re just really lucky to have him,” Tatum told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin during his postgame interview.
From the very start, they’ve been quite successful as a duo. The shortest playoff run they went on was losing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2019. The longest playoff run they went on was making the NBA Finals in 2022. Entering their fifth season as teammates, it’s clear the two work very well together.
One can only wonder if the Celtics would have won a title had Horford and Tatum never separated.
Al Horford Congratulates Jayson Tatum
After the Celtics’ X account posted that Tatum was the youngest Celtics to reach 10,000 points, Horford congratulated Tatum.
Horford’s post is concrete evidence that Tatum’s admiration for Horford is clearly mutual. Horford has been a steady veteran presence for both Tatum and the Celtics. In all but one season, Horford has helped the Celtics make the Eastern Conference Finals. While the Celtics made the Eastern Conference Finals without him, it’s possible that he would have gotten them even further.
Matt John covers the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics for Heavy.com. A Massachusetts native, he has covered the NBA since 2018, with stops at FanSided, Basketball News and Basketball Insiders. More about Matt John