Horford didn't have the biggest play in the Celtics' last game of the season, a back-and-forth Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, but his steady presence kept Boston involved throughout the game. After a back-and-forth start to the fourth, the Cavaliers knuckled down defensively and held Boston without a field goal for almost the last six minutes of regulation as they pulled away for the victory.
Stevens, by the way, was pleased with how Boston defended James and limited open looks for his supporting cast.
James, seeking his eighth straight trip to the Finals, comes in averaging 34.9 in Game 7s - including his 45 to help eliminate the Indiana Pacers in this year's first round.
Once this team didn't crack to the pressure of a Game 5 against LeBron, and given the "last hurrah" vibes that undoubtedly surrounded Cleveland's Game 6 win and Kevin Love's absence from Game 7, I bought in. Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be played Thursday on the home court of the Western Conference champion. Meaning there's a fair chance the NBA Finals could be a clash between the Warriors and the Cavs for the fourth year in a row.
In the end, none of the Celtics wanted to discuss the team's bright future with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. They have to be exhausted, and that's no way to go into a series against Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and the Warriors, who blew Cleveland away in five games previous year, or James Harden and a Rockets team that can be every bit as potent on one end and lock teams down on the other. "I can't say enough good things about him".
"It was pretty incredible run by an incredible group of guys, and an absolute pleasure and privilege to be around them every day", Stevens said.
NBA playoffs: LeBron James leads Cleveland Cavaliers to fourth straight finals over Boston Celtics
And, for now, that means Cleveland, too. "We are going to try to get better throughout the series", he said. I began to run all the scenarios through my head with real hope for a Houston-Boston fourth-round war.
James tracked the Celtics guard from the far sideline, timing his attack.
Tatum rose to the occasion for 24 points and seven rebounds before fouling out with 40.5 seconds remaining in a 10-point game, then shared a long embrace with James after the game.
JR Smith canned some key three-pointers on the night - finishing with 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting from long-range, adding four boards, a steal and a blocked shot.
Horford will return for his 12 National Basketball Association season and third with the Celtics when the team assembles for training camp in the fall. Rapper 21 Savage was also at the game.
Cavaliers: Shot just 2 of 17 from 3-point range in the first half. But each time they bounced back off the mat to advance.More news: Lebron James dominates Boston Celtics to force game 7