Al Horford will be unable to seek his first NBA victory over the Denver Nuggets after his Boston Celtics fell to the Miami Heat in an epic Eastern Conference final on Monday (84-103, 3-4 in series).
With their heartbreaking loss in the seventh game, Horford and the Celtics also eliminated the possibility of a first-ever league comeback for a team that started the season 0-3 down.
The indestructible and eternal power forward from the Dominican Republic, who will be 37 on Saturday, was a key piece for the Celtics, who will not be able to avenge their defeat in last year’s Finals, which they lost 4-2 to Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors.
Horford became the first Dominican to play in an NBA Finals during that season.
“It was obviously very disappointing for our group,” he said on Monday in a press conference after Boston’s elimination.
“We have high hopes and expectations.” Especially after a game like the sixth (victory with a miraculous canasta and over Derrick White’s bocina). We felt we had momentum and an opportunity. “We gave everything,” he said.
Horford, who is in his 16th NBA season, had 8 points (3 of 8 on shots, 2 of 5 on threes), 8 rebounds, and 2 assists in 34 minutes as the starting point guard.
Horford said the Heat elimination game as “extremely difficult” not just physically, but also emotionally.
“It’s very agonising.” “I believe we felt a little this evening,” he reflected.
“But, more than anything, I’m proud of this group, of the team’s growth this year, of the type of players we have, and of the leaders we have in the locker room,” he said.
Regarding the loss in the last meeting, the pvot said that the Celtics made “the correct offensive plays,” but that “the shots simply did not fall.”
“We stayed together for the majority of the game.” After that, I believe we finally began to feel demotivated at the start of the fourth quarter,” he said.
Despite his demise on Monday, the man from San Felipe de Puerto Plata has continued to provide veteranism, maturity, and a plethora of intangibles to a Celtics team that relies heavily on outside shooting and has Horford as its primary inside pillar with Robert Williams.
Horford is under contract with the Celtics for two more seasons at a total of $20 million.
This was the Celtics’ second consecutive Eastern Conference final against the Heat, although unlike in 2022, Boston finished in first place against a team led by Jimmy Butler.