Al Horford’s sister, Anna, pinpointed the moment the star flipped a switch to lead the Celtics to a 116-108 win over the Bucks in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series Monday.
“This is where the Bucks f–ked up,” Horford’s sister tweeted during the game. “I know that look… He was pissed.”
Anna’s tweet included a video that showed Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo staring down the 15-year NBA veteran after a poster dunk in the first half. The “Greek Freak” was issued a technical foul for taunting.
After the game, Horford agreed it was that moment that motivated him.
“I don’t really know what he said to me, but the way he was looking at me and the way he was going about it, really didn’t sit well with me,” Horford said. “At that point, I think just something switched with me in the game.”
The 35-year-old Horford — who finished the game with 30 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one block in 42 minutes — was 11 for 14 from the field, and 5 of 7 on 3-point attempts. He set his highest career playoff total for 3-pointers.
Horford had 16 points in the fourth quarter alone to help the Celtics outscore the defending NBA champions, 43-28, to rally for a potential season-saving victory.
“I usually just kind of go about my business,” Horford said. “I do get excited, but I guess you kind of pick your spots, your moments. This was an emotional game.”
Horford later received his own technical foul after his left arm made contact with Antetokounmpo’s face on the way down from his game-tying dunk.
Boston avoided a 3-1 deficit in the absence forward/center Robert Williams, a key part of their defense, who was out with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. Grant Williams replaced him in the lineup, which marked his first career playoff start. Jayson Tatum finished Game 4 with 30 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
“We all understood the importance of this game,” Horford said with the series even 2-2 and headed back to Boston for Game 5 on Wednesday night. “We felt at the end of Game 3 we were in position to win the game, and we didn’t. (Boston suffered a 103-101 loss in Game 3.)
“I was just really locked in. I understood the moment, what we needed to do as a group. I really just did whatever it took tonight. It was one of those type of nights.”