Al Horford speaks out on Boston Celtics role in Kristaps Porzingis's absence

Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics
Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics / Paul Rutherford/GettyImages

Kristaps Porzingis's injury opened up opportunities for some in the Boston Celtics' "stay-ready" group, mainly Luke Kornet, who is now the de facto backup 5, but it really put the onus on the 37-year-old Al Horford.

But Horford has accepted that role with grace. In 23 minutes during a 34-point closeout win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Miami Heat, Horford scored eight points, grabbed six rebounds, and dished out three assists in a +10 BPM performance.

And as he shared with in-house Celtics reporter Taylor Snow, he doesn't see a need to change how he approaches the game despite the increased role.

“I want to make sure that defensively I’m solid, that I’m giving support to the group, and that I’m doing the things that I need to do on that end,” Horford said on May 3 (h/t NESN). “My job doesn’t change. And then on offense, continuing to stay ready and do whatever I need to do. For me, it’s just all about continuing to impact winning, so it doesn’t change.”

Luke Kornet can earn big deal this offseason with Boston Celtics role sans Kristaps Porzingis in the lineup

Kornet, not Horford, is the biggest beneficiary of the opening in playing time Porzingis's injury created. We know who Horford is after a highly successful decade and a half as a five-time All-Star, All-NBA Third Teamer and All-NBA Second Team defender. Kornet, though? He now has an opportunity to prove on the biggest stage that he can be a legitimate contributor to a team with championship hopes.

Should the Vanderbilt product rise to the occasion, there's a fat paycheck coming in the offseason from someone. Will it be the Celtics? Perhaps, though they might be able to find a cheap replacement through the draft.

But someone will sign Kornet if he can thrive in the role Porzingis's injury has allowed him over the next several weeks. Or, in a worst case scenario, the rest of the postseason.