The Boston Celtics were able to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals thanks in big part to Al Horford.
During his second year with the Celtics, he has become an invaluable asset for Boston. Perhaps most noteworthy is his developed skill set in the post.
Horford has averaged 1.18 points per possession when posting up during the postseason. He is 28-of-43 (65.1 percent) on these opportunities, which ranks No. 1 overall among all players with at least 15 possessions on this play type.
During the regular season, Horford was just average when posting up for the Celtics. His 0.82 PPP on these possessions ranked 21st among all the eligible centers in the Eastern Conference.
Since the playoffs started, he has averaged 4.8 post-up possessions per game while averaging 5.6 points per game when posting up. Both rank as fourth overall among all players who’ve appeared in the playoffs. For comparison, Horford posted up 3.5 times per game and averaged 2.8 points per game on this play type during the regular season.
This has never been an elite skill set for Horford, but as his defenders are often now in small-ball lineups, he has a size advantage that he has used splendidly. Similarly, his intelligent decision-making has been helpful for Boston as well.
Teammates in the playoffs have shot 6-for-11 (54.5 percent) when he has passed out of a post-up opportunity, averaging 1.36 PPP. This ranks no. 2 overall (minimum: 10 possessions) since the postseason began as well. They shot a touch worse at 49.1 percent after his passes when he posted up during the regular season.
The big man has averaged 0.74 points per paint touch, which ranks No. 1 overall among those who have had more than twenty post-ups while in the playoffs. Once again, compare that with his 0.48 points per paint touch for the big man during the regular season.
This ranked poorly at No. 14 overall among all big men in the Eastern Conference with at least 100 post-ups.
It’s certainly been a remarkable change of pace for Horford, who matched up surprisingly well against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid. It will need to continue to have any luck against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for Boston to make a trip to the NBA Finals.