After a long, long drought, Al Jefferson is headed back to the playoffs. I had to look it up to remember, but he actually did make it to the playoffs with the Celtics back in 2005. Remember the Pacers series that included Antoine Walker, Gary Payton, and Paul Pierce getting ejected? Man that feels like forever ago. Imagine how Al Jefferson feels.
To put it into perspective, buddy Kendrick Perkins has played in 85 career playoff games. Al Jefferson has 7. So you can understand why the folks at SLC Dunk were wondering if Big Al would pull a Mutumbo if he clinched. He did better than that - he merely secured the win with his strong play down the stretch.
Utah becomes the final team to clinch a playoff berth with a passionate 100-88 win over Phoenix at Energy Solutions Arena on Tuesday night. Al Jefferson's fist-pump with 2:55 left to play and an 11-point lead acted as catharsis not just for his seven-year playoff drought, but for an eager Utah crowd, feeling finally safe to stand and cheer for the closing minutes of play. Though Paul Millsap's numbers bested Jefferson's at the end of the night, it was Big Al who converted on four straight offensive trips to put the game out of the reach of Steve Nash's Suns.
Congrats Al Jefferson. Way to hang in there. Good luck in the playoffs.