PHILADELPHIA — Al Horford finished second in the NBA in 3-point percentage this season, but his shooting challenged him to start the playoffs.
Horford’s 3-point percentage dropped from 44.6 percent during the regular season to 29.7 percent to start Boston’s playoffs. He missed seven of eight 3-pointers he attempted in Wednesday’s lopsided Game 2 victory and is 7 for 29 from beyond the arc in his last five games.
During the Celtics shootout on Friday morning, after a long shooting session on the field at the Wells Fargo Center, Horford was explaining his meltdown when he noted, “It’s just part of when you’re a sniper. You have to lift them.”
A Boston television reporter laughed off Horford’s suggestion.
” You laugh ? You don’t think I’m a sniper? a clearly disturbed Horford asked.
“My numbers don’t support it?” Horford asked again after a pause.
Said they do, Horford added, “Hey, we walk through walls. So stay confident and ready to go.
A month away from his 37th birthday, Horford is getting spicier at his advanced age in the NBA. Earlier this postseason, after hitting a late 3-pointer as the Celtics sealed a victory over the Hawks, Horford barked at the Atlanta bench. After the game, he proudly noted how if an opposing team talks trash, it usually doesn’t end well for them.
Which should make Boston fans feel pretty good about Horford’s potential to come out of his slump in Philadelphia. The Sixers paid huge amounts of money to sign Horford here after Boston’s disastrous 2018-19 campaign. Horford drew much of the ire when the Sixers struggled and they sent him to Oklahoma City in December 2020. He’s heard boos in Philadelphia ever since.
Horford found his fountain of youth in Boston, even signing a two-year extension in December. His hunger for the championship helped fuel Boston in last year’s playoffs, and he’s not taking those opportunities for granted after 15 years in the league.
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On Friday night, Horford will be tasked with helping limit Joel Embiid after receiving his MVP trophy in a pre-game ceremony. We think we’ll see a very motivated Horford on both sides. He always seems a bit more energetic when the Sixers are on the other side.
Horford could be key to helping Boston maintain their Game 3 defensive success, especially if Embiid is closer to him after shaking off some rust in Boston.
Horford has to charge Embiid at the other end if he doesn’t come out to defend him at the 3-point line. Embiid will want to stay planted near the basket and avoid chasing Horford to the line. But a few marks could force the Sixers’ hand.
Horford will not be shy. It’s just part of being a sniper.