Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Hawks big man Al Horford returned to the floor during Sunday's Game 4.ATLANTA -- Hawks center Al Horford is back in the starting lineup for Game 5 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Celtics after experiencing no setbacks after making his return in Sunday's Game 4.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he wasn't surprised by Horford's return to action after missing nearly four months with a torn left pectoral.
"Surprised at Al? No I’m not. We had heard he was close," said Rivers. "It's such a tough call for a coach. Remember [Magic coach] Stan [Van Gundy] had that horrendous dilema with Jameer in the [2009 NBA] Finals, where Jameer [Nelson] came back [from a shoulder injury]. Do you play him? I always think you play them; I would, I can tell you that. I would have done exactly what [Hawks coach] Larry [Drew] did. But it’s still tough.
"I thought [Horford's] first stint on the floor, he struggled, but then I thought, by the end of the game, he was back to being to being Al Horford. So we’re going to have to deal with that tonight."
The Celtics will have to deal with it even more as Horford is back in the starting lineup for the Hawks after chipping in 12 points and 5 rebounds over 20:19 in Game 4.
"Physically, he feels fine," Drew said after the team's morning shootaround. "I wouldn't say he's in tip-top shape, but he's in playing shape. He didn't experience any discomfort with the [pectoral] the other game. There was a play early where he went up for a ball and kinda got pulled back [while colliding with Ray Allen] a little bit, which I thought, that was going to be the test with him. But he said after the play that he was fine. He wasn't sore or anything. That was kind of the test."