Celtics Not Worried: Luka Doncic vs. Al Horford Showdown! - footballivenews
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Celtics Not Worried: Luka Doncic vs. Al Horford Showdown!



During the downtime preceding the NBA Finals, Al Horford, the center for the Boston Celtics, marked his 38th birthday. Typically, being a 38-year-old professional athlete often evokes images of playing bingo at a senior center twice a week.

However, this stereotype does not apply to Horford, who continues to make a significant impact on the court.

Throughout Boston’s journey to the NBA Finals, the veteran center assumed a more prominent role while Kristaps Porzingis recuperated from a soleus strain—and he excelled. Notably, he delivered a standout performance in Game 5 against the Heat, scoring 22 points, and showcased his shooting prowess by hitting 7-of-12 from beyond the arc in the Eastern Conference Finals.

This momentum carried into Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks, where Horford’s age seemed inconsequential.

The opening play of the game featured a powerful dunk from Big Al. Employing a pump fake, he drove past Daniel Gafford along the baseline, leaving Luka Doncic with little choice but to opt out of contesting the shot.

One might assume that such an athletic display would serve as a reminder of Horford’s enduring capabilities. However, Doncic seemed undeterred, persistently attempting to exploit perceived defensive vulnerabilities by seeking switches.

Yet, these efforts were largely in vain.

According to the NBA’s defensive matchup tracking, Horford limited Doncic to just two points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field, including 0-4 from beyond the arc.

While seemingly straightforward, Horford’s ability to contain the All-NBA guard is invaluable. It enables the Celtics to deploy lineups without defensive weaknesses and execute a switch-everything defensive strategy—a critical tactic when facing the Mavericks.

Dallas is adept at exploiting mismatches and capitalizing on defensive weaknesses, as evidenced by their dismantling of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference Finals. Doncic or Kyrie Irving would frequently leverage screens to draw Rudy Gobert out to the perimeter, exploiting his limited quickness.

However, Game 1 demonstrated Horford’s mobility and defensive discipline, qualities honed during Boston’s journey to the Finals. Despite facing formidable opponents like Tyler Herro, Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Tyrese Haliburton, and Andrew Nembhard, Horford successfully thwarted their attacks.

A memorable instance occurred during Boston’s closeout Game 5 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Round 2, where Horford repeatedly denied Garland’s attempts to exploit the perceived mismatch, ultimately blocking him three times.

While Doncic possesses exceptional skills and utilizes footwork and strength to create scoring opportunities, his lack of quickness compared to other guards limits his effectiveness in targeting Horford in switches. Despite Doncic’s talent, Horford’s superior footwork renders him a formidable defender against such tactics.

While the dynamics of the series may evolve, the Celtics are likely content with Doncic attempting to exploit perceived mismatches against Horford—for now.

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