Boston Celtics center Al Horford realizes the team is in a do-or-die situation after falling behind 3-2 in the NBA Finals following a 104-94 Game 5 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday.
According to ESPN's Tim Bontemps, Horford lamented Boston's poor play late in Game 5 before turning his focus to Game 6:
"Obviously we're a little discouraged after having such a good third to come out in the fourth and not execute like we needed to. We felt like we had opportunities, kind of started playing like we were playing earlier in the game. That's definitely, you know, tough.
"Our backs are against the wall. This is the time that we look at each other in the eyes and we got to figure it out. We have an opportunity now. Got to figure it out. There's no tomorrow for us."
The series shifts back to Boston where the Celtics will try to win Game 6 on Thursday and send the series to San Francisco for a decisive Game 7.
The Celtics had a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead at home in Game 4, but they couldn't contain Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry, who went off for 43 points in a win.
For the middle portion of the pivotal Game 5, it looked like the C's would prevail.
Golden State seized an early 16-point lead and led by 12 at halftime, but the Celtics came out firing in the third quarter and took the lead by the halfway mark.
Boston built that lead to as much as four by virtue of hitting eight straight three-point attempts in the third quarter, but Golden State erased the deficit on a Jordan Poole buzzer-beater, entering the fourth with a one-point advantage.
It was all Warriors from there, as Golden State outscored Boston by nine in the fourth and showed the championship mettle that helped it make five straight NBA Finals and win three titles from 2015 to 2019.
While the Warriors hold a huge experience advantage in terms of big-time playoff games, the Celtics have some experienced players in their own right, and it starts with Horford.
The 36-year-old is playing in his first career Finals, but he's played 146 career postseason games and has appeared in 950 regular-season games as well.
Horford has been a steadying force for the Celtics this season since returning from a two-year hiatus spent with the Philadelphia 76ers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Boston will need a big performance out of Horford in Game 6 after he posted a team-worst minus-19 rating in Game 5, but it will also need Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart to step up in a major way in order to avoid elimination.