Ime Udoka, Al Horford talk about Horford’s high-level play heading into Nets-Celtics series

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While fans of the Boston Celtics finally seem to be catching up to what veteran big man Al Horford brings to the table that does not show up in a box score this season, the University of Florida product has been filling up the box score as well over the Celtics’ 2021-22 campaign with a renewed vitality about him.

Some of that has been attributed to the time he took off while with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season at the end of the season, but it has been sustained for the duration of this season as well. The issue of Horford’s late-career renaissance has been a topic of growing interest as a result, and Boston head coach Ime Udoka opened up about it after practice on Saturday.

Asked specifically when he realized the veteran big man was going to play like the player he’d been in his previous stint with the team, Udoka replied “as soon as he was in the gym for open gym.”

“Honestly, we had a conversation when I got hired (by the Celtics) being that I was with him in Philadelphia, and he just said how excited he is to be back,” added the Celtics coach.

“I think the year in Philly didn’t go great. And then the half-year in Oklahoma City helped him get rejuvenated, so he was very focused to come in. And you can see just physically from his body that he was in great shape. And then being a veteran coming back to this group, I think he was excited about that as well.”

“So, you saw it from day one and open gym even before training camp,” said Udoka.

Horford himself fielded a question in the same vein later on during the same media availability, asked what he’s done to have such high-level longevity.

“Our medical team has been unbelievable,” Horford quickly credited.

“I can speak for the rest of the guys, but (they are) … keeping us feeling well, healthy,” he added.

“I played I think 69 games this season, and I felt good for most of the season and just our coaches getting us prepared, working every day, on the day to day on, on the basketball aspect of things, everything. I’ve just been very pleased.”

“Everything has come together for us,” Horford observed.

Boston’s success in the 2022 NBA postseason will likely depend on Horford continuing to quietly anchor the defense, particularly while the team waits for starting center Robert Williams III to return to action.

That he has been able to play at such a high level so long into his career is indeed a testament to the work put in by the medical team — but the Celtics veteran should be given plenty of credit for his own self-care as well.

This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook!

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