Al Horford has tasted playoff and postseason success before.
He won two national championships during his three years with the Florida Gators before embarking on an 11-year NBA career.
And while he's reached the playoffs in 10 of those 11 years in the NBA, the 31-year-old and 5-time All-Star has yet to experience the NBA Finals.
And with the way he's playing during this postseason run with the Boston Celtics, this just might be the year.
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Horford is averaging career-best playoff marks in points per game (17.2) and field-goal efficiency (59.3 percent) and has come up big in clutch moments.
Take the Celtics’ 108-83 win against the Cavaliers on Sunday to open the Eastern Conference Finals as the latest example. Horford scored 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and added four rebounds, six assists and two blocks in 27 minutes. It was Horford’s fifth 20-point outing of the playoffs and the second time he has made more than 80 percent of his shots with at least 10 attempts.
"He's our rock," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, according to ESPN. "He's the guy we really, really lean on."
But individual success isn’t Horford’s goal. He’s hoping to help the Celtics make their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.
In order to do that, they need to take out LeBron James and the Cavaliers. That has been a rough path for Horford lately, with each of his last three playoff runs ending against James.
But the Celtics had success on Sunday, holding James to 15 points — his lowest turnout in the playoffs this season — and forcing him to turn the ball over seven times. The challenge now is sustaining that success over the rest of the series.
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is set to tip off at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday from Boston’s TD Garden.