BOSTON (CBS) — Al Horford continued his strong playoff run with one of his best efforts of the season in Game 5 on Wednesday against the Wizards. He stuffed the stat sheet with 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting, six rebounds, seven assists, and a plus-14 rating in just 28 minutes.
He also made his presence felt on the defensive end, helping limit the Wizards to 46 points in the paint after they scored 56 in Games 3 and 4. He also blocked three shots in Game 5, including a swat on the Wizards’ John Wall in the second quarter with the Celtics up 17.
Horford was a monster down low, but he even asserted himself from long range, going 3-for-4 on three-pointers.
As big of an impact Horford made on the floor, he was also credited with leading the Celtics in the locker room during the game. At halftime with the Celtics up 67-51, Horford gave a speech to his teammates in order to keep the team together and avoid a second-half comeback by the Wizards.
“We were kind of falling apart at halftime and Al kept everyone together and told us that if we continue to play the same way and have a great third quarter, we can have a chance to win the game,” said Avery Bradley, who led the Celtics with 29 points.
The Celtics responded by outscoring the Wizards 56-50 in the second half to secure the 123-101 blowout victory.
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Horford downplayed his excellent all-around effort, boiling it down to just doing his job according to the situation.
“I’m just trying to play the right way,” said Horford. “When I’m getting my chance to shoot and if not I’m passing the ball, just playing the game.”
The big man said he’s felt confident about the Celtics’ ability to take control of the series, even during their blowout loss in Game 4.
“We played pretty good over there [in D.C.] in the first half. Then they just steamrolled us,” said Horford. “But I saw some things from our group, and I feel like tonight we did a good job.”
Horford is now averaging 15.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game in 11 playoff games for the Celtics, shooting an outstanding 64 percent from the field and an incredible 56 percent from three-point range.
He’s asserting himself all over the court for the Celtics – but perhaps his biggest impact is coming in the moments you don’t see.