BOSTON — Someone turned back the clocks at TD Garden on Thursday night. At least it seemed that way given Al Horford’s performance in the Celtics’ overtime victory against the Golden State Warriors.
Horford, a 36-year-old big man in his 16th NBA season, played perhaps his best game of the season against Golden State. The five-time All-Star scored 20 points, grabbed 10 boards and came up with three incredible blocks in the contest, seemingly sparking each of Boston’s runs toward the comeback victory.
“I joked about Al, he came out and looked like he was 25 today,” Jayson Tatum said postgame. “Two days off, he needs more games with two days (off) in a row because he came out and set the tone. He really did, and we all followed behind that the rest of the night. Al was big for us the whole game.”
It was a fast start for the Celtics’ oldest player, as he scored eight of Boston’s first 15 points and got the TD Garden crowd on its feet with a huge chase-down block on Warriors guard Jordan Poole.
Horford didn’t just feed the crowd, however. They fed into his performance as well.
“I think (TD Garden) tonight, you could feel that energy,” Horford said postgame. “For me, it was important in the beginning that I came out and set the tone for our team. I felt like I was able to do that early on. We really did a good job of staying the course by feeding off of the crowd.”
Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla was more hesitant to take the shine away from Horford, giving him credit for establishing the type of game the Celtics were looking to play against a smaller Warriors lineup.
“I just thought he brought a different type of physicality and mindset to game. Especially the way he started off,” Mazzulla said postgame. “He did some great things, as far as offensive rebounding and screening versus the switch. His ability to guard the five, his ability to space and just make the right play.
“I thought he helped us get going.”