OKLAHOMA CITY — The Celtics don’t need any additional motivation when it comes to championship desires but, with the region captivated by the Red Sox in the World Series, the local nine are offering a little extra inspiration — and maybe a tiny diversion — as the Celtics ease into a season with their own championship expectations.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has routinely gushed about the Sox’ postseason exploits and players such as Al Horford have made their games appointment viewing. The Celtics are very aware of what’s happening over at Fenway Park.
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“I think it’s just something special,” said Horford. “Being in Boston, and just seeing something like that, it motivates me. It motivates us to try to go out and do some special things as well.
“Right now, it's kind of their moment. It’s just good to see their group come together and play at such a high level because — that Houston series, obviously, I was just impressed because Houston’s a really good team. Right now, they’ve had tough games the first two games [against the Dodgers] and [Game 2] was very gritty. I’m just excited to see them doing well.”
Horford’s baseball-playing grandfather instilled a love of the sport and Horford has made friends with many of the MLB stars from his native Dominican Republic. It was the presence of David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez that made Horford a fan of the Red Sox even before he signed in the Celtics and, even though he doesn’t know many of the current Sox, Horford still finds himself screaming at his hotel TV while watching the games.
And it doesn’t hurt that the Sox’ success is providing nice cover as the Celtics work through some early-season growing pains.
"That’s one way to look at it,” Horford said with a laugh. “Fortunately, we’re in October...There’s a lot of expectations for our group. And when you’re not fulfilling them, you’re going to get criticized and that’s fair. We need to play better, that’s no secret.”
Both Horford and Stevens noted how much fun the Red Sox look like they’re having in their games. Celtics players have admitted they might be pressing a bit amid an underwhelming start to the season and players yearn to get back to simply having fun on the court.
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“[The Red Sox] just continue to have this unbelievable mentality,” said Stevens. "I haven’t watched every World Series for the past 50 years but, at the same time, I can’t imagine any team looks like they are having more fun than the Red Sox. I think you can see that in their play, how together they are, how many smiles you see, it’s a fun team. And I hope they get it done in the next two games, but at the same time know how hard that’s going to be and you take it one pitch at a time. But, man, they are fun to watch.”
As Alex Cora pushes all the right buttons this postseason, it’s clear Stevens respects the way the Sox manager leads his team.
"He’s such a great guy, and he’s so good with people that’s it’s not a shock,” said Stevens. “You can clearly tell everybody’s on board. And the way they are supporting one another, and the way they are going about their business is a blast.
"If you’re not from Boston and you’re just watching from afar, you’re looking for a team to root for, they’d be an easy one to pick because of the way they play and the way they pick up each other.”
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