WALTHAM, Mass. – Two years ago, Al Horford and his then-Atlanta Hawks teammates steamrolled their way through the regular season and went into the playoffs as the number one overall seed in the East.
Despite it being the greatest season ever in Hawks history, the Hawks were still seen as a notch below the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now with Celtics, Horford finds himself once again leading the charge of a team on the cusp of having the best record in the East if they beat the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow night, or the Cavs lose their regular season finale at home against Toronto.
Regardless of how Boston and Cleveland’s regular season finales play out, the Celtics will still be viewed as the lesser team to the defending champion Cavaliers.
Being slighted in that regard does not phase Horford.
“In both cases, you have to just go out and prove what you’ve done,” he said. “People always going to rely on experience and Cleveland has done it for so many years; or I should say LeBron has done it for so many years. That’s just the way it is.”
James has been to the NBA Finals each of the last six seasons (2011-14 with Miami, and 2015-2016 with Cleveland), and has won three NBA titles in that span.
“So why would you bet against that? For us, we’re not going to get caught in that,” Horford said. “We’re gonna keep working, keep getting better and see what we can do. I feel really good about our team.”
So does Avery Bradley who couldn’t help but chuckle when asked about how the Celtics are viewed despite going into Wednesday night’s game against Milwaukee controlling their own destiny to finish with the best record in the East and with it, home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“I mean, we are (number one right now) so it doesn’t matter what people think,” said Bradley, grinning. “We’re the number one seed now. It’s our job to make sure we take care of business tomorrow.”
Head coach Brad Stevens had similar comments when asked about his team and the potential for them to lock up the top overall seed with a win over the Bucks Wednesday night.
“We just play the game ahead of us,” Stevens said. “That’s all we focus on. It is what it is. That’s all we’re focused on, trying to play well.”