Al Horford makes NBA history with incredible Game 5 stat line

Al Horford makes NBA history with incredible Game 5 stat line originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The oldest player remaining in the 2024 NBA playoffs was the best player on the floor Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Al Horford delivered an epic performance in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, powering the Boston Celtics to a 113-98 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers that earned them a 4-1 series victory and their sixth trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in the last eight years.

The 37-year-old's final stat line: 22 points on 8 of 15 shooting (6 of 13 3-pointers) with 15 rebounds (seven offensive), five assists, one steal and three blocks.

According to NBC Sports Boston statistician Dick Lipe, Horford is the first player in NBA history to record at least 10 rebounds, five 3-pointers, five assists and three blocks in a playoff game.

What's more, Horford is the second-oldest player in NBA history to tally at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a playoff game, behind only Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

That's a remarkable achievement for a 17-year veteran who will turn 38 on June 3. The Cavs were daring Horford to shoot early on Wednesday night -- he entered the game having missed his last 11 3-pointers in the series and went just 3 of 8 from 3-point range in the first half -- but the big man made them pay down the stretch, going 3 of 5 from beyond the arc in the second half while capping his night with a dagger in the final minute.

The Celtics needed someone in their frontcourt to step up Wednesday with Kristaps Porzingis still sidelined with a calf injury and their offense looking lethargic in the first half.

Boston's elder statesman rose to the challenge and then some.

"Everybody's a leader on the team in a different way. Al leads instrumentally, not much of a talker. Tonight, you saw his gift," head coach Joe Mazzulla said after the game. "His gift is just passion, inspiration, toughness, competitive nature.

"... You saw his personality (tonight). I thought he was tremendous. I thought that he started it for us and all the guys responded well. ... I’m honored to coach him."

Horford will get some well-deserved rest as the Celtics await the winner of New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers in the other Eastern Conference semifinal series. New York currently leads 3-2 entering Game 6 on Friday night.