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Horford locks down Giannis, Bucks in Game 1 win

The Boston Celtics have known for the better part of three months that if they were to make it to the NBA Finals, they would have to go through the Milwaukee Bucks. More specifically, they would have to try to slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo, a leading candidate for Most Valuable Player of the NBA.nike nfl jersey cheap

Whether they had three months, three weeks or three days, the Celtics knew that when these teams met in the postseason, how they fared would depend on how Al Horford played. On Sunday, he showed the world why.

“We’ve said all year you can’t overstate Al Horford’s importance to our team,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “The numbers back that up.”1

The numbers certainly backed it up on Sunday. As the Celtics had their way with the Bucks at both ends of the floor, bringing to the fore every doubt that has hung over Milwaukee’s charmed run to the NBA’s best record this season, Horford found himself in the middle of all of it. Some of that came offensively, as his shooting spaced the floor and created room for Boston’s guards and wings to wreak havoc in the paint, and where he and Kyrie Irving (26 points and 11 assists) had tremendous success running pick-and-pops against Milwaukee’s defense.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

More of it came defensively, as he led the charge against Antetokounmpo. The Bucks’ star finished with 22 points and eight rebounds but shot just 7-for-21 from the field (including 4-for-16 the first three quarters of the game) and had things made difficult by the Celtics as a group — and Horford in particular — with every step he took.

Against Horford, Antetokounmpo shot 1-for- 6 on the day, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information. Against Aron Baynes, whom the Celtics moved to the bench to try to ensure that he or Horford was out there virtually every second that Antetokounmpo was during the game, Antetokounmpo went 1-for-4.

“They were loading [the paint] a lot,” Antetokounmpo said. “Lots of guys in the paint. Whenever I got in the paint, when I spin or try and change direction, the second guy was right there.

“I’ve just gotta go watch tape. If they are going to play like this the whole series, I have to be able to make the right pass, trust my teammates to knock down shots.”