The Atlanta Hawks advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the second season in a row, thanks to the combined might of Al Horford and Paul Millsap. Atlanta’s bruising frontcourt combined for 32 points to close out the Celtics in six games in the opening round. The playoff series win was the first for the Hawks over the Celtics since the 1958 Finals.
“We learned from before with this team that no lead is safe,” said Horford from the podium. “To start the third it was important for us to get off to a good start and just keep attacking. Having that mentality of just keep attacking, play after play. I felt like we did that consistently in the third and that was the big difference.”
Horford started off strong in Atlanta averaging 20 points a game, and was able to bounce back in the closer after a trio of suspect games on the offensive end. Boston basketball enthusiasts may have softened on their desire for Horford as an off-season acquisition, but if signed, he would instantly boost their talent. The Dominican baller is a proven winner, with back-to-back NCAA Championships from his time at Florida, along with a degree, to show for it.
To continue their post-season run, the Hawks must solve their inability to secure a playoff win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who swept Atlanta in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. For ATL to advance against LeBron James there can be no lulls in Horford’s game. With other potential free agency suitors looking on, including the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, this is money time for Horford.
“You work to be able to be in the playoffs,” Horford told assembled reporters. “We obviously just played a really good Boston team and we have a big challenge ahead with Cleveland. We’re excited about it.”