Al Horford climbed the availability ladder Thursday, starting the morning as “doubtful” for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, later being upgraded to “questionable” and then finally clearing the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols shortly before tipoff against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena.
“I’ve seen that Instagram post when he was flexing and they said he was available,” Tatum told reporters. “I was excited.”
Below seemingly is the post mentioned by Tatum.
Horford missed Game 1 on Tuesday night after landing in the league’s health and safety protocols. His absence was noticeable as the Celtics fell off a cliff in the second half, enduring a nightmare third quarter en route to a 118-107 loss.
Horford scored 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting, grabbed three rebounds and dished out three assists in 33 minutes in Game 2. More importantly, him and Marcus Smart, who also returned to the lineup after missing Game 1 with a mid-foot sprain, provided a calming veteran presence. Boston’s defense and overall attention to detail were much better Thursday night.
“It’s tough,” Tatum said of the uncertainty that surrounded Horford before Game 2. “Obviously just dealing with COVID in general. First of all, you want to make sure that he’s feeling alright health-wise. That’s most important. Then obviously that’s tough when he’s not there or anybody because it’s so unpredictable. It’s kind of just unfortunate when somebody tests positive or something like that. But glad he’s feeling alright. Glad he’s back healthy. Obviously we needed him.”
The best-of-seven series now shifts to Boston tied at one game apiece. Tipoff for Game 3 at TD Garden on Saturday night is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.