Al Horford made a surprise appearance in Game 4, but wasn’t sure if he would be healthy enough to play again in Game 5.
“We’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” he said. “Either way I’m going to be supporting the team. If I can play I will. If not, then I’ll be there to support them like I have all year.”
Horford’s Game 4 stat line of 12 points, five rebounds and six of 10 shooting painted him as the team’s second-most productive player, and on a night when none of the Hawks particularly demonstrated any competitiveness, that’s what he was. But he also didn’t play like “Al Horford, All Star.”
There was the time when Kevin Garnett posted up Horford in the first half, spun one way and came back the other. All Horford could do was shove Garnett in the back as he drilled a baby jump hook for an and-one. Garnett, as Garnett does, followed with a string of screamed words which surely wouldn’t be allowed in a kindergarten class. If it wasn’t his manliest move in years, it was close.
At the end of the first quarter, Horford caught a pass in the middle of the lane, waited a second or two as if hoping the Celtics defenders would disappear, and then rose for a shot with all the confidence of an eighth-grade boy afraid to ask a date to the school dance.
Horford, still capable of running the floor like few other big men, threw down four uncontested dunks in the contest to help his final stat line shine.
“He said he did feel pretty good, and I thought he did a good job coming back after being gone for three-plus months,” said coach Larry Drew.
But — and after such an extended absence we shouldn’t expect otherwise — he’s not ready to walk in and immediately control the paint.
Atlanta’s star center is back. But without being at full strength, he’s not capable of becoming the difference.