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May 27, 2018

Al Horford

Jayson Tatum

Boston, Massachusetts: Game Seven

Cavaliers - 87, Celtics - 79.

Q. What did Jayson accomplish this season as a once 19-year-old rookie?
AL HORFORD: Unbelievable. Just the way that he took the season in stride and just kept pushing. For somebody to go through this their first time and go through a full NBA season -- he played, I think, pretty much every game -- and to be in these pressure situations in the playoffs, his composure, making play after play and really just poised and ready for moments all year. I couldn't ever imagine him playing at this level and in this magnitude.

As a group, we have nothing to hang our heads about.

Q. Jayson, Ty Lue was just in here and talking about their game plan coming into the series against you, and it was to be physical. He talked about holding you away from the ball. When you leave this series, what is the biggest lesson that you take away from playing in the Conference Finals and seeing what this type of basketball is all about?
JAYSON TATUM: Just an amazing ride that we had and how much fun it was playing with these group of guys night in and night out, playing for our coaching staff. Just how I would have went to war with any of those guys on our team any day. I knew that we were going to give it our all every single night, no matter what the circumstance was, and the entire season we showed that. Like Al said, we have nothing to hang our head about. We left it all on the floor, and it was a lot of fun.

Q. Jayson, just curious what this entire postseason has been like for you. They just said you had the most 20-point games by a rookie since Kareem back in 1970. Curious what this entire ride has been like for you?
JAYSON TATUM: The postseason has been a lot of fun, from the first game to today. I've learned so much.

I've just enjoyed everything that we've accomplished, everything we went through. I just had so much fun out there each and every night, no matter if we won or lost, just how we competed and always gave it our all. It was my first year, so I was just out there having fun.

Q. For Al, you came out in the first part of the game, just an amazing effort. How hard is this for you? You were at the edge of reaching your first Finals?
AL HORFORD: I think the effort was great. Obviously, I'm disappointed that we couldn't reach that next level. I just think that for our group, for myself, we all need to look at the work that we did this season and understand that there's a lot more work to do in order to reach that next level. So individually this summer, it's something that I will work even harder on my body, on the court, taking care of myself to help our team be in these type of positions again.

It's definitely tough, but we have nothing to hang our heads about.

Q. Al, after the game, there was a long embrace between you and LeBron. It's obvious he has a ton of respect for you. I know you've run up against him a couple times here in the playoffs. How do you look at it? Is losing to LeBron in a playoff series any different than losing to any team that doesn't have LeBron, just given his stature and the history of the game?
AL HORFORD: It's difficult. I think that we always try to compare him to other players of all time and criticize that -- people have to understand that he is playing at a different level. Just his ability, his stamina, just his feel of the game. There's just a lot of positive things about him and how he's able to have those repeated efforts time and time again.

It's one of those things that I've got to tip my hat to him. As a group, we really fought hard. We did everything we could. We put ourselves in position. We were one or two shots away from being there, and it just wasn't enough for our group. Credit to him and their team.

Q. Al, for being as close as you were, coming a shot or two away, is that frustrating to say for everything LeBron did, for everything you guys accomplished, that had a couple more shots gone in, you guys might be heading to The Finals?
AL HORFORD: It's difficult. It's difficult for our group. Obviously we're disappointed, and we had our opportunities. We had our opportunities. Things just didn't happen. But what I've been telling you guys throughout the playoffs, as a team, we're learning. We haven't been in these positions before as a group, and all of this has been great learning experience for our group. I know that we'll be better from this.

Q. Jayson, same question about your moment with LeBron after the game was over. What was your moment like? Were any words exchanged?
JAYSON TATUM: Yeah. That was a special moment for me, because it's different. It's my first year in the league. I grew up watching LeBron and asking him to follow me back on Twitter, going to his camps. So just to my first year, to be able to compete against a player like him and be a few shots away from beating him and his team to go to the championship is something I will always remember.

Q. You had that other moment earlier where you sort of went up against him. Was that spontaneous on your part?

Q. On the dunk.
JAYSON TATUM: Oh, yeah. I mean, I had to get him back for the two shots he hit on me in Cleveland. I meant no disrespect by it. Just in the moment, made a play. Just showing emotion.

Q. Brad Stevens was in here a couple minutes ago talking about how he anticipates training camp practice is going to be pretty intense, already kind of looking ahead. The question to you is what kind of anticipation or eagerness do you have for next year, knowing Kyrie Irving will be back, Gordon Hayward is going to be back and joining a group that made it this far?
AL HORFORD: Yeah. It's something that we'll definitely look forward to as a group, to have the team back together and complete. I'm sure I'll think about that as the summer goes on. Right now, almost for me I can't look that far. It's too soon. I just really appreciate this group of guys. No excuses. Fighting every night, just tough. I'm just proud of this group and what this team was able to do this year.

Q. The second quarter, you were up 12 and they cut the lead and you guys were, I think, one field goal in six minutes. Is that kind of the point where the game changed, and did you guys rely maybe a little too much on the three in the second half to try to come back?
AL HORFORD: Yeah. It's one of those things that we felt like we had some good momentum going there, and then we had some great looks that just literally went in and out and that we missed. I think they gained some momentum; they made some plays. Earlier in the series at home, we would hit them like that. It seemed like they were able to put them down, and they just found their way back into it. But yeah, I think that was definitely a turning point.

Q. Jayson, coming in, a lot of responsibility was placed on you for just being a rookie, and you always seemed to handle it with such poise. Reflecting back, what would you say was the biggest area of growth for you this season?
JAYSON TATUM: Just learning everything that I didn't know from the first game until today. It was such an adjustment the first year in the league -- new teammates, new system, living on your own, traveling, playing so many games. I think the biggest thing was just getting used to it and comfortable. There were ups and downs throughout the season, but I had great teammates. When times were tough, they always told me just to keep working and sticking with it. Watching them just work by example, I was able to just get more comfortable and have more confidence in myself throughout the season that I didn't have early on.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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