Al Horford shook his head for several seconds, to show Giannis Antetokounmpo that he had received the “message”. The Greek had just dunked on the counter-attack in front of the Celtics player, at the start of the third quarter of this Game 4. In the wake of his gesture, the leader of the Bucks stopped to cast an angry look towards his opponent. This too strong gaze, considered provocative, earned him a technical fault.
Above all, it earned him an authoritarian reaction from the Boston veteran, stung in his pride. “ I don’t really know what he said, but I didn’t like the way he looked at me and the way he went about it. At that moment, something shifted in the game “, reports Al Horford.
So at the start of the next quarter, his team still trailing by two points, he dribbled past the Greek to go and dunk him in turn despite, this time, an attempt to counter. The 35-year-old exploded all his rage, as rarely. No doubt carried away by his emotions, he too suffered a technical foul due to an elbow sent to the face of Giannis in the momentum of his galvanizing dunk.
“ They gave me the pass and (Giannis) came out on me. I had shot a lot outside so I thought I was going to dribble. I went there, big action obviously. With lots of emotions. I think it allowed us to go even further collectively. »
” It was a hell of an action.”qualifies Jayson Tatum, the other late game hero of the Celtics. “Every time Al goes back in time and becomes the player he was with one of those dunks, it gets everyone off the bench. Al plays with such passion that everyone else has to follow. » « The energy changed for everyone after that confirms Marcus Smart, who describes his teammate as the “ best veteran with which he has ever played.
Big impact on both sides of the pitch
His heroic fourth quarter was not limited to this dunk. A “runner” in front of Brook Lopez, an award-winning basket in first intention in transition, another 3-point basket in the corner, still being served by Jayson Tatum, or even a “hook” with the fault of the pivot of the Bucks.
Balance sheet: 16 points scored… in the first seven minutes of the period.
The interior, which had just released a big Game 3 (22 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists), thus offered itself a new record in the playoffs with 30 points (11/14 on shots including 5/7 from afar), 8 rebounds and 3 assists in 42 minutes of play. Not to mention a big defensive investment on the Greek (only six points in the final), while his racket partner, Robert Williams, was absent.
This exceptional match for his age earned him many compliments. Starting with Giannis Antetokounmpo himself who describes his opponent as a ” true professional. He is to be congratulated because a lot of people at 35 cannot play like this. He’s the reason they stayed in the game. »
” Al carried us in the second half and inspired everyone else to outdo themselves”judge Jayson Tatum. “No one will ever be able to speak ill of him. He helped me a lot during our three years together, I’m very lucky to have Al as a teammate. » « He’s been doing this for a very long time and he knows what he brings to this team. It’s a very, very, very, very big key to have Al with us. », Displays Marcus Smart.
Their veteran, who could already have been the hero of Game 3 with his tap at the buzzer a bit too late, recalls that the Celtics were aware of ” the importance of this game. We felt like we were in a position to win Game 3, but we didn’t. I was really focused. I really understood the moment, what we had to do collectively. I really gave my all. It was one of those nights. »
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