Al Horford has been around long enough to know not speak ill of his opponents -- especially when he used to play for them.
Horford's 76ers are locked into a first-round NBA playoff matchup with the Boston Celtics, where he spent three seasons from 2016 to 2019 before signing with Philadelphia in free agency last summer.
So, how does the veteran big man feel about facing his old mates in his first playoff series with the Sixers?
“What are the odds?” - Al Horford on his current team (Sixers) facing his old team (Celtics) in the playoffs. When I asked how he felt about the Bubble meaning he wouldn’t be returning to the Garden as a playoff opponent, he smiled & said: “I’m okay it worked out that way.”— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) August 13, 2020
"What are the odds?" Horford told ESPN's Rachel Nichols, adding he's glad the teams will meet in the neutral setting of the NBA bubble to spare him returning to a hostile TD Garden crowd.
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Wizards, which begins Thursday at 11 a.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at noon. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.
Celtics fans indeed won't have the chance to boo Horford this postseason, and he's not giving them reason to, anyway. Here's what Horford added to Nichols about the red-hot Celtics:
"In my eyes, they’re playing the best of all the teams in the bubble right now.”
The undefeated-in-the-bubble Phoenix Suns may disagree with Horford's assessment, but the C's are hitting their stride at the right time. They've won four games in a row -- three by double digits -- and routed the defending champion Toronto Raptors last Friday.
The Sixers, meanwhile, have lost three consecutive games since losing All-Star guard Ben Simmons to a season-ending knee injury and appear in danger of flaming out in the first round.
If Horford has any regrets about leaving Boston for Philly last offseason, though, he's certainly not letting on.
"For us, it’s a great opportunity," Horford told reporters Wednesday in a video conference, via The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn. "... It’s part of the business. Obviously, we’ve already played them plenty of times this year so that effect is out of the way, so now we can go out there and compete. It should be a fun series."