The last few days have been a roller coaster for Al Horford. On Tuesday, he entered the NBA's health and safety protocols, causing him to miss the series opener in South Beach.
But according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Horford tested negative on Wednesday, then twice more Thursday, swinging his status from doubtful to questionable to available for Game 2.
After the Celtics' 127-102 win to tie the Eastern Conference Finals as it heads to Boston, Horford said, "I felt a little off. Felt I had to get tested. Then we tested the last couple of days, again and again. And I'm happy I was able to get back out there."
Horford later expressed, "at the end of the day, I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to play tonight and get back with the team. This was a big game for us."
Horford said of missing Game 1: "It was difficult," later conveying, "that was the hardest part for me, not being able to be there for them." He finished his answer with, "I'm really grateful to be able to be here for Game 2."
But when it came to watching the Celtics get outscored 39-14 in the third quarter of the series opener as the Heat seized control of the game, Horford shared: "Oh man," pausing before stating, "that was hard. It was hard. That was tough, just not being there with the guys."
Horford went on to say the Celtics did a good job of learning from where they went wrong in Game 1 and did a good job responding Thursday.
Leading into Game 2, when he got to see everyone on the bus, Horford described that moment as "just happiness." He said the team's reaction was, "let's go win this."
The Celtics did just that, as Horford helped neutralize the Heat's offense, making it easier for Boston to get back to its switch-heavy approach. He also gives the Celtics more size defensively than Grant Williams, who started in his absence in the series opener. That made it harder for Miami to generate second-chance points.
The previous paragraph is a testament to his impact going far beyond his traditional box score stats, but he registered ten points, three assists, and three rebounds in Thursday's win.