SAN FRANCISCO – Veteran center Al Harford made his debut in the NBA Finals on Thursday, scoring 26 points and six six-pointers to lead the Boston Celtics to a stunning come-from-behind road win in Game One on Thursday.
The 36-year-old native of the Dominican Republic joined the league in 2007 and despite five All-Star appearances and multiple awards, a trip to the final has long missed him.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment,” Harford said after a 120-108 win over the Warriors in San Francisco.
Harford, who has won two NCAA Championships at the University of Florida, said: “I know it’s different but I’ve played on the same stage in college and I’ve been comfortable playing games like this.
“One way or another she’s going to figure it out. We’ve given her a lot and she delivers, she does.”
Jason Tatum’s continued growth and brilliant playmaking in Al Harford Game 1. pic.twitter.com/885KXZxwzL
– NBA (BANBA) June 3, 2022
“And I wanted to project it to the group. I wanted to make sure our boys came here and played for free. I wanted them to understand that it’s just a game, so go there and have fun.”
Harford credits his teammates for not giving up after reaching the final frame against a team that has not lost all its playoffs at home for a long time, despite being 12 points behind.
The team has a combined 21 three-pointers and five Celtics finished in double figures to take a 1-0 lead in the best-seven series, which continues into Game Two on Sunday.
“I’m excited to share this stage with the boys,” Harford said.
“We have a lot of great people here who have really bought into what we’re trying to do.
“It’s fun to see it all come together.”
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