Al Horford turns back the clock, scores 30, sparks Celtics past Bucks to even series 2-2
Al Horford has been in the NBA since George W. Bush was president and “The Simpsons Movie” was in theaters.
Monday night, he jumped in the hot tub time machine and had arguably his best game as a professional.
Horford scored 16 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter — all while guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo on the other end — and he and Jayson Tatum led a Celtics team back from double digits in the third quarter. Tatum and Horford combined to start the fourth quarter shooting 11-of-11 for 28 points.
It was enough. With their backs against the wall in an intense series, the Celtics played their best quarter of the postseason and came out of it with a 116-108 win in Game 4 to even their series with the Bucks 2-2. Game 5 will be back in Boston on Wednesday night.
Horford and Tatum each scored 30, while Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart added 18 apiece.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 34 points but unlike the previous game, the Celtics made him work for it. He was 14-of-32 shooting, and the Celtics were physical with him. It wore Antetokounmpo down (he had to take a quick rest with five minutes to go in the game he was so tired). Antetokounmpo still had his moments, some empty side pick-and-rolls in the first half led to open buckets, and he torched Jalen Brown seemingly every time Brown was switched onto him — and Brown is a good defender. It just doesn’t matter against Antetokounmpo.
While Antetokounmpo was going off, Jrue Holiday had another rough night, shooting 5-of-22 and finishing with 16 points. With him being off, the absence of Khris Middleton to an MCL sprain is more acute — the Bucks miss his secondary scoring. Brook Lopez added 17 and finished well on alley-oops and going to the rim.
Boston did a better job of hunting matchups — Ime Udoka admitted after the game they went at George Hill — and driving and kicking. That led not only to open 3s but also wore out the Bucks, who were constantly having to scramble on defense.
Milwaukee will adjust. This has been a physical, intense, evenly matched series that seems designed to go seven games. These teams are done with each other.
And while the players and coaches might want to end it earlier, basketball fans are going to enjoy these next three games. This is what playoff basketball is all about.