The NBA Schedule Caught Al Horford’s Eye, and the Boston Celtics ‘Took On the Challenge’
Don’t tell Al Horford Game 2 of 82 isn’t that important. The Boston Celtics won their second straight Friday night to open the 2022-23 NBA season by defeating the Miami Heat on the road. Fresh off their first NBA Finals berth since 2010, the new-look Celtics have looked sharp early and are itching to secure their first title since 2008.
The Celtics know they won’t sneak up on anyone this year. There’s a target on their back. Horford said the team “took on the challenge” after opening the season with two tough opponents.
The Boston Celtics are picking up where they left off
Although they lost to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals, they Celtics had one heck of a run to end the season. Starting from Game 51 of the regular season, Boston went 26-6 to head into the postseason on a high note.
They secured the No. 2 seed and swept Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets in the first round. Then they outlasted the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks and the top-seeded Heat in seven games before reaching the championship round.
The Celtics have battled through some offseason adversity. Head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the season for violating team policies. Newly signed Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL during the summer while playing in Italy. Starting center Robert Williams III underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee and will be out at least the first two months.
In the offseason, the Celtics addressed their biggest issue — lack of depth — and it’s paid off. They traded for veteran guard Malcolm Brogdon, who has come off the bench and played two strong games. Brogdon had 16 points in a season-opening win over the Philadelphia 76ers. He had seven points and five rebounds against the Heat.
The Celtics are far ahead of where they were at this point last year when they started 0-2 and had Udoka questioning the team’s effort. They haven’t skipped a beat from where they left off last season.
Al Horford said the Celtics ‘took on the challenge’
It’s only the first week of the season, but the Celtics are making a point. They mean business, and they showed it against two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
After Friday’s win over the Heat, Horford had no problems saying a late October victory was a big win.
“It’s a big win on the road,” Horford told Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston. “When you look at the schedule at the beginning of the year, I was like, ‘Man, Philly and Miami, two tough ones.’ In this one here, we knew they were going to come out ready to go. We just took on the challenge, and it feels good to get this win on the road.”
While stars Jayson Tatum (29 points) and Jaylen Brown (28) led the way offensively once again, Horford gave credit to the bench, singling out Brogdon and Grant Williams.
“I thought Malcolm was more aggressive, attacking more, which is always great to see,” Horford said. “Grant hit some timely threes at the end of the third.”
The Celtics have no time to rest as they head to Orlando to take on a young and talented Magic team Saturday.
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