Al Horford’s first taste of the NBA playoffs quickly went from sweet to sour.
As a rookie in 2008, Horford and the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks nearly pulled off an incredible upset of the No. 1 Boston Celtics in their first-round series. The C’s ultimately took down the Hawks in Game 7 and rode the momentum to an NBA championship.
But while Horford’s first postseason experience ended in heartbreak, the tough loss certainly served as a teaching moment. Speaking with the media Friday, the veteran forward explained the impact that title-winning Celtics team had on him.
“That Celtics team was great because they were all about defending, really committed to helping each other, and they really knew their roles, so I learned a lot my rookie year playing against them,” Horford told MassLive’s Tom Westerholm. “As hard as it was, it shaped my career in the NBA.”
Now, a decade after Paul Pierce and Co. brought the C’s back to glory, Horford has a chance to etch his name in history and bring the franchise its 18th championship.