Not only will Al Horford be making his 76ers regular-season debut on Wednesday. He’ll do it against the Boston Celtics, his former team.
“It’s going to be weird for me, different facing my former team,” the power forward said Sunday after practice. "It’s probably as good as a scenario as it can be. First game of the year we’ll do it.
“Yeah. It’s definitely going to be different. It’s not just another game. It’s a big game given the rivalry between Philly and Boston.”
Horford signed a four-year, $97 million contract with the Sixers in July. He could make up to $109 million.
The 13th-year veteran said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to win an NBA title alongside Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris. The Sixers can only hope that his presence helps shift what has recently been a lopsided rivalry.
In their last meeting on March 20, the Sixers defeated the Celtics, 118-115, at the Wells Fargo Center, for just their fourth victory in the rivals’ last 25 meetings.
Embiid had a game-high 37 points to go with a career-high 22 rebounds. The two-time All-Star center also made a career-high 20 foul shots in 21 attempts.
Former Sixer Jimmy Butler scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, including an 18-foot jumper with 5.5 seconds to finally vanquish the visitors.
Horford had 22 points, six rebounds, and team-high five assists in that game.
Coach Brett Brown acknowledged Wednesday’s game will a different dynamic for Horford than most Sixers.
“It’s the Celtics. It’s a conference rival. It’s the start of the year,” Brown said. "There are a lot of things that you can accurately justify to be excited about.
“It bet he feels internally a heck of a lot more than us.”
But Brown is using Horford has a resource while preparing for the Celtics. The five-time All-Star spoke to the team about facing his former squad on opening night.
“He’s great,” Brown said. “He’s thoughtful. He’s smart and he helps me.”