Celtics Notes: Horford, Brown, Porzingis, Mazzulla

Veteran big man Al Horford delivered his best performance of the postseason at an opportune time. He contributed 22 points, 15 rebounds and five assists as the Celtics eliminated the Cavaliers on Wednesday. He also held down Darius Garland on switches, Jared Weiss of The Athletic notes.

“There’s obviously things that you have to focus on, rebounding and stuff like that, but it made us answer the bell,” coach Joe Mazzulla said. “You’ve got to guard your yard. This is what it takes to win this game, this is what it takes to win this series.”

Horford felt his team looked flat in the first half and he needed to do something to change the momentum. “I just wanted to bring that energy to our group, and the group was able to feed off it,” he said.

Horford, 37, has one more year remaining on his contract with a $9.5MM salary.

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Jaylen Brown has taken note of the spirited battles between the Knicks and Pacers. He feels the key to the Eastern Conference Finals will be Boston matching the intensity level of the opponent, he told Jay King of The Athletic. “Definitely gotta get ready to just bring it,” Brown said. “Both of those teams play hard as s–t. That’s what you’ve gotta be ready for. It’s just, how bad do you want it? Those dudes are out there putting their lives on the line, it seems like. They’re diving for loose balls, pulling hamstrings, whatever. How much are we willing to do that? That’s going to be the key.”
  • Brown’s bank account got a boost thanks to Boston reaching the conference finals. He gained a $369,048 bonus under the terms of his contract, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.
  • Ending the second round series in five games buys more time for Kristaps Porzingis‘ return to action from a calf injury, Brian Robb of MassLive.com notes. Boston’s regulars will be well rested for the conference finals, reducing the need to get Porzingis back into action right away. He’ll also get a couple extra days to recover if the Pacers-Knicks series, or the Nuggets-Wolves, goes the limit. In those instances, Boston would host Game 1 on Tuesday instead of Sunday. Porzingis has begun light workouts during his rehab.
  • Mazzulla showed his growth in the deciding game of the Cleveland series in terms of making in-game adjustments, Robb writes. The Celtics’ head coach was proactive with his timeouts and stuck with Horford instead of going with a smaller lineup in the second half. The offensive strategy also worked well in the fourth quarter with Brown and Jayson Tatum setting up their teammates.
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