The Boston Celtics entered the 2023-24 NBA season with a new-look roster that shuffled the roles of a few veteran players, most notably with Al Horford.

In the season opener against the New York Knicks, the 37-year-old came off the bench for the first time in his Boston career and just the 11th time in his NBA career. Horford embraced the role on Wednesday to help his team earn a gritty 108-104 win at Madison Square Garden.

In 26 minutes, Horford added eight points and seven assists to add depth to Boston’s reserve unit performance.

Joe Mazzulla took time to highlight the continued impact the veteran adds to the Celtics.

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“Al is Al,” Mazzulla told reporters after the win, per NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “Grateful to have him. He made a play in front of our bench where he contested a shot three or four times and allowed us to get a shot-clock violation. His effort allowed us to recover and get it back five-on-five. Regardless of the situation, he’s always going to be ready to play. You can always count on him. I thought he brought great poise. He hit those two shots down the stretch for us. Those were big.”

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Horford became the odd man out of a new starting five with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. The group had extended discussions on what groupings made the most sense to maximize winning for the Celtics.

“Us six went together and talked about it,” Holiday told reporters, per NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “Honestly, it’s about what we can do for the team. No matter who starts. No matter who finishes. We all want to win. We’re all on the same page. When it comes down to it, winning is our only option.”

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The Celtics look to move to 2-0 on Friday night at the home opener at TD Garden against the Miami Heat with tipoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET.

Featured image via Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports Images