NBA Hoops

Al Horford shares love story with TD Garden crowd on in‘special night’

Al Horford shares love story with TD Garden crowd on in‘special night’

With no Donovan Mitchell, no Jarrett Allen, and no Caris LeVert, the Cleveland Cavaliers were fighting for their season on Wednesday night. And through the middle of the second quarter, they were very much alive.

The Cavs led by three with just over four minutes to go before Derrick White nailed a three to tie the game. Cleveland had the Boston Celtics within striking distance in a game they had no business being in on paper.

That’s when Al Horford came to life.

Immediately after White’s three, Horford blocked Darius Garland’s layup attempt off the backboard.

Then, less than two minutes later, he spiked another Garland shot into the ground. It was there that the love affair between Horford and the TD Garden crowd took on a life of its own.

Sandwiched in between the two blocks, Horford nailed a three-pointer of his own. And by the time the end of the quarter rolled around, he was ready to explode.

Horford missed a three with 1:08 to go in the third quarter—already the Celtics’ second shot attempt of the possession thanks to his own offensive rebound—but he wasn’t ready to let the moment go.

He sprinted down his miss, soared into the sky like Zeus in front of the Celtics bench, and treated the ball like a lightning bolt, pinging it off of Dean Wade and maintaining Boston’s possession.

“The one play in particular when he saved the ball out of bounds, the last two minutes of the second quarter, it just gave us that extra possession. It pumped the crowd up, pumped our team up,” said Jayson Tatum. “Those plays—that was so meaningful.

“Just how he played in the second half on the defensive end, he knocked down big shots time and time again. His performance, his energy — his leadership tonight was crucial.”

Once again, Celtics fans in attendance let out thunderous cheers.

“Tonight was a special night for our group because we had this chance to close it out here at home, and for me, the biggest thing was just bringing energy,” said Horford. “Bringing energy to our group. I felt like we lacked it in the first quarter, and when I came back in the second, I felt like we needed to step it up.

“We were talking about it a lot in the huddle, but we weren’t really getting it done. And we had a great opportunity here at home to handle this, and I knew it was gonna take a lot more than just playing a normal game.”

Horford finished Game 5 with 22 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, one steal and three blocks. He shot 8/15…

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