Al Horford kept the Atlanta Hawks alive in his first game back from injury in their first round playoff series with the Boston Celtics, scoring 19 points, including the final four, in an 87-86 win.
The win cut the Celtics lead in the series to 3-2 and set up a game six back in Boston on Thursday night. Horford was a beast for Atlanta all night long in his first game back from a torn pectoral muscle that kept him out for most of the season.
Players on both sides of this battle are banged up. For the Celtics, Paul Pierce has an ankle injury, but expects to play and Ray Allen is only in his third game back from bone spurs in his ankle.
In addition to Horford's injury, which appears to have healed, Josh Smith is battling a knee injury that will allow him to play, but could limit him.
The Celtics certainly want to close out this series as soon as they can in order to get their older players more time to rest before the next round, but the Hawks have had some good battles with these Celtics, including taking them to seven games in the first round of the 2007 playoffs.
Expects another close game in a series where only one game has been decided by more than six points.
Prediction: The remainder of this series will depend on the battle between the Celtics veteran's craft, and the youth and exuberance of the Hawks. Something has to give in the closest series in the Eastern Conference. The edge tonight might come from the raucous home crowd at the TD Garden in Boston.
Predicted Score: Boston over Atlanta 98-94