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“The way he was going about things, it didn't sit right with me” - Al Horford on Giannis Antetokounmpo motivating him to have the game of his life

Horford is the oldest Celtics player with a 30-point game in the playoffs since John Havlicek in 1977.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks the ball against Boston Celtics center Al Horford

Giannis Antetokounmpo lit a fire under Al Horford

Boston Celtics veteran Al Horford turned back the clock in Game 4 against the Milwaukee Bucks after putting up 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists to lead his team to victory on Monday. The 35-year-old was the best player on the floor as he went toe-to-toe against two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The moment that fired Horford up

In the third quarter, when the Bucks went up by six points, Antetokounmpo drew a foul on Horford that got the former riled up. The Bucks superstar looked Horford in the eye and smugly nodded, which didn't sit well with the veteran. Horford took this moment as a form of disrespect and right after led the Celtics to outscore the Bucks 68-54 in the third quarter.

"The way he was looking at me and the way he was going about things, it didn't sit right with me. And yeah, that sort of flipped a switch at that moment," Horford said.

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It's understandable why Antetokounmpo would react smugly (it's all part of the game, after all), but he probably didn't foresee Horford serving him so much humble pie by taking revenge and having the best game of his life. Horford was all over the court, causing huge defensive stops against Antetokounmpo with his contagious energy and scoring one vital bucket after another.

Horford's 30-point game performance on Monday was the first one in his playoff career after 132 games. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Horford became the oldest Celtics player with a 30-point game in the Playoffs since 37-year-old John Havlicek did in 1977. His explanation for the stellar performance was simple. 

Which team closes out the series?

Now that the Celtics regained homecourt advantage by tying the series (2-2), the Bucks need more contributions outside of Antetokounmpo. For as good as Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez were, no Bucks player aside from Antetokounmpo scored more than 20 points in Game 4. The defending champions also shot just 33.3% from the 3-point area, which significantly needs to improve to survive the Celtics' suffocating defense.

Horford has proven he can at least contain the Greek Freak, but there's a good chance that he doesn't score 30 points again. Still, the Bucks also have to worry about Jayson Tatum (who produced 30 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists on Monday), Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown, who all found their groove on the road in Game 4.

Both teams will be in a dogfight as they aim to close out the series in the next three games (or less). Boston wouldn't be in this position without Horford, who reminded Giannis on Monday night that he can look at him in the eye and go toe-to-toe with him as well. 

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