In the mindset of Al Horford, being in the Eastern Conference for the majority of his entire career has been troubling, given the fact that he had to go through LeBron James.
Horford, who managed to play for the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics, has faced James in the playoffs throughout the four-time MVP’s entire second tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers. From 2015 to 2018, he failed to deliver even a single series win against him.
Joining J.J. Redick in his Old Man & the Three podcast, Horford shared his perspective of James during Game 7 of their 2018 Eastern Conference Finals encounter, wherein his C’s squad was just a few moments away from knocking off the superstar, but eventually came up short to complete it.
(1:31 mark), via bleacherreport.com:
“It was Game 7, about four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, it was still a very close game. And we’re getting out of the timeout, I’m looking at Marcus Morris, I’m looking at Jayson Tatum, Jaylen [Brown], Terry [Rozier], myself, we’re gassed.
“It’s Game 7, we’re giving everything we have. I’m in great shape and I’m still very tired from the game, and I look at the other side and [LeBron’s] sitting kind of on the scorer’s table, leaning very casual. He’s played every minute up to that point, and he looked unfazed. He looked unbothered. To me, that was disturbing. The fitness level, the conditioning that he’s in, I think it’s something that people don’t realize – how good of shape he’s in and also just that gear he kicks into. There’s not a lot of people that can do that.”
Amid pressure and grinding atmosphere in Boston, James went on to keep his foot on the gas pedal and carried the Cavs for a final ride with an 87-79 Game 7 win, finishing with 35 points, 15 boards, and nine assists. On the brink of elimination, the future Hall of Famer maintained his dominance in the East and entered his eight-straight Finals appearance – a feat that hasn’t been achieved since the mythical Boston Celtics team in the 60s.
Though James failed to prevail against the overpowered Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, his 2018 version of that playoff journey will always be remembered as the best throughout his illustrious career.