December 4, 2023


Horford performed off the bench within the Celtics’ preseason recreation on Tuesday, one thing he hasn’t completed in a regular-season or postseason recreation throughout his time in Boston.

Al Horford may very well be enjoying off the bench greater than he ever has earlier than this season. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Employees

Al Horford has began all however 12 of the 1,180 common season and playoff video games he’s performed in over the primary 16 seasons of his NBA profession. 12 months 17 might need a unique outlook the Celtics large man.

Horford performed off the bench for the primary time over his two tenures with the Celtics in Tuesday’s preseason recreation towards the Knicks, a attainable signal of issues to come back following the Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Vacation trades this offseason.

However making that potential sacrifice is OK for Horford.

“It was undoubtedly enjoyable,” Horford instructed reporters of enjoying off the bench in Tuesday’s recreation. “With our group, we’re gonna be with many lineups and issues on the market, and it’s simply persevering with to seek out methods to influence that recreation. We’re all wanting on the similar factor, making an attempt to perform the identical factor. In that exact recreation, we have been making an attempt to win the sport. That’s the main focus.

“For me, it’s seeing how I can influence successful. That’s all the time my focus.”

The primary take a look at the Celtics’ beginning lineup with out Horford went properly. The group of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, Porzingis, and Vacation helped the Celtics get off to a 41-30 lead towards the Knicks’ backups within the first quarter. Horford contributed off the bench, scoring 5 factors in six minutes of first-quarter motion.

The Celtics obtained into extra of a groove within the second quarter of that recreation, carrying a 78-60 lead going into halftime. Horford ended up enjoying 23 minutes in that recreation, which was not less than 5 minutes fewer than what a lot of the different starters performed. However he scored eight factors and posted a team-high plus/minus of plus-17.

Horford stated that he didn’t change his routine for Tuesday’s recreation, however stated that enjoying off the bench provides him “a unique perspective once I step on the ground and what must be completed.”

Because the five-time All-Star and 37-year-old prepares for a brand new function, he defined why he was extra keen to come back off the bench now than he did at every other level in his profession.

“The kind of crew we now have, we now have a number of depth. We have now a number of gifted gamers,” Horford stated. “One in every of our strengths is our versatility as a crew. So there’s going to be occasions that we’re going to should go a sure approach. There’s different occasions that we obtained to play large, play small, issues like that. That’s simply the way in which it’s.

“I’m ready proper now that I really feel all of us can influence the sport in a optimistic approach. Generally, the very best factor for our group proper now could be to play that approach. There will probably be occasions that we’ll play large and do issues like that.”

It seems to be like Horford will nonetheless get his possibilities to play within the beginning lineup all through the season. He began within the Celtics’ preseason opener as Vacation was the odd man neglected, coming off the bench.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla has indicated all through coaching camp and the preseason that the Celtics will probably be versatile with their beginning lineups, with some speculating that Vacation could be playing off the bench regularly. The Celtics haven’t been shy in utilizing double-big beginning lineups since Horford returned to Boston in 2021, usually pairing him with the now-departed Robert Williams within the beginning lineup. That lineup helped the Celtics emerge as one of many NBA’s prime groups during the last two seasons, however didn’t get them over the hump.

Horford seems to be keen to make no matter sacrifices wanted in an effort to win his first title, together with enjoying off the bench.

“For me, I’m in a great place of the place I’m at,” Horford stated. “Simply staying locked in and able to go.”