WALTHAM -- Al Horford has a unique perspective on Game 7’s played at the TD Garden.
A rookie with the Atlanta Hawks in 2008, Horford was looking to be part what he and his then-eighth seeded Atlanta teammates were hoping would be one of the greatest upsets in postseason history against Boston’s Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
Those dreams were soon dashed as Boston closed out the series with an emphatic 99-65 win.
The Celtics’ players obviously made things rough for Horford and his teammates.
But the TD Garden crowd had a major impact on the game as well, something Horford is hoping will once again happen Monday night when the Celtics host the Washington Wizards in a Game 7 matchup.
“The energy in the Garden was unbelievable,” Horford recalled. “I just felt like they (fans) just kept (pouring it) on. They stayed at it.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens is a big fan of the TD Garden crowd.
But as pumped up as they may be, he knows that his players have to do a lot of the heavy lifting if the Celtics are to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
“We have to play well,” Stevens said. “That’s where our focus has to be. There’s no doubt playing in Boston is the best. But it’s about playing well inside those lines. Ultimately that’s what you have to do.”
Boston’s fans won’t log a single minute of court time or block a single shot, but there’s no getting around their value to a team that’s looking for that little extra something to help them put away a pesky Wizards team that staved off elimination with a 92-91 buzzer-beating Game 6 win.
Horford is convinced that the home crowd, particularly one as loud as the TD Garden faithful can be in big games, that could be a difference-maker in a Game 7 environment.
“And opposing teams, players, they feel it for sure,” Horford said. “There’s no question about it. You can talk around it . . . when the fans are into it, they’re giving that energy, other teams feel it.”
He added: “It gives you more energy. It feels like it puts you over the top; just fuels the players. We’re at the point of the year we’ve played a lot of games. Everybody is playing through bumps and bruises. Anything helps. That’s why I keep stressing . . . I’m very happy that we’re here at home for Game 7.”