Al Horford shows his defense on Jeremy Lin Wednesday at TD Garden. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)
The Al Horford era in Boston is officially underway.
In Wednesday’s season opener, the Celtics’ prized free agent had a modest, yet serviceable outing in his Celtics debut, scoring 11 points in 27:09 minutes of work. He managed to grab five rebounds with six assists and four blocks in the process as well.
“It’s a relief more than anything,” Horford said. “[I’m] happy to finally get out there, start the regular season, I was proud of our guys and how we handled everything.
“It felt great, it’s a really good feeling just to think of the rich history here. I really do appreciate being here, so for me it was a lot of fun.”
Well regarded around the league as a team-first type player, from the onset Horford noticeably opened the floor for his teammates. Though in large part his numbers were not staggering, the opportunities he facilitated for fellow Celtics made as big a difference as his own personal numbers, best validated by his plus-13 rating that was good for second on the team.
“For me, I’m about winning, I’ve always been about winning, I want to win and I want to do whatever I can. I want to make sure my teammates feel comfortable with me, that we play the right way, that’s my biggest emphasis. As long as we’re moving the ball, doing what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be fine,” Horford said.
In what seemed like it was destined to be a solid performance followed up by the opportunity to spectate the latter minutes of a blowout, Horford found himself in the game in the waning moments after an implosion from the bench.
For someone who’s been around the NBA long enough to know that nothing is permanent, Horford was ready to accept the challenge and move on.
“That’s the NBA for you, it’ll humble you sometimes,” Horford said. “We had a comfortable lead, we thought it was fine, but it’s a good learning experience for our group, we have to keep playing the right way throughout 48 minutes.”
Horford won’t have too much time to soak in the victory and his Garden debut as a member of the Celtics, as the C’s will head to Chicago to take on the Bulls Thursday night.
“I know obviously [Dwayne] Wade is there and [Rajon] Rondo, they have a completely changed team, we’ll have to start looking at them,” Horford said. “Those guys are veterans and it’s going to be a good game.”