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NBA Playoffs 2012, Hawks Vs. Celtics: Al Horford Saves The Day

Our own Kris Willis, SB Nation Atlanta editor and Peachtree Hoops head blogger, broke down his reaction to the Hawks' surprising Game 5 win against the Celtics, and the return - and subsequent marathon of 41 minutes played - by Al Horford made the difference for the Hawks:

Al Horford was simply amazing and showed just how much this team missed him this season. When I wrote the update about him starting there was no way I was expecting him to play more than 20-25 minutes. He told Tracy Wolfson before the game that he was sore and had some inflammation from playing in Game 4 but the situation dictated that he play.

Play he did, for 41 minutes scoring a game-high 19 points and finishing with 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. He is the first big up the floor on the break constantly and his energy was sorely needed on this night.

Horford's return from a torn pectoral was nothing short of a miracle for a sagging Hawks team that had lost three straight in the series. The missing key of Atlanta's "big three" returned for the first time since January and hit Atlanta's final two baskets, as well made a game saving defensive play after Rajon Rondo intercepted a Josh Smith pass. Horford cornered Rondo, and Smith deflected his shot.

For more on the Hawks-Celtics playoff series check out Peachtree Hoops andCelticsBlog. For more news and notes regarding the NBA Playoffs head over to SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.