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May 29, 2022

Al Horford

Jaylen Brown

Boston Celtics

Game 7: Postgame

Celtics 100, Heat 96

Q: [Inaudible]

JAYLEN BROWN: I was hoping to God -- my mind was to rebound because I was in the name, so I didn't want to give up an offensive rebound, but when he shot that, I was like, man, what the hell. But he missed, we get the rebound, we move on.

Q. You talked a lot after Game 6 about having confidence in you guys coming down here, being able to play well and win this game. How proud are you of the way you guys were able to stay disciplined, stay focused, not have any of the lapses you guys had turnover-wise and pull this thing out at the end?

JAYLEN BROWN: That's what we do, we did all that on purpose to make it interesting.

No, I'm just kidding.

But that's us. We've been responding all year, all season to adversity. Today was the biggest test, not just of the year but of our careers, to mentally come into a Game 7 away after losing on our home court, which was tough, and we got it done.

Q. Al, how are you feeling? Everybody in the Dominican Republic was watching the game tonight.

AL HORFORD: I'm very, very grateful, very, very excited. We're here in Miami really close to DR. I know my family is happy. Everybody is watching. The country was watching. I know everybody was there. They were sending me pictures, they were ready for this, and we're enjoying this time.

Q. Your first trip to The Finals, Al. You could see that throwing the ball up in the air and getting down on your knees, can you just describe the moment of having all of those years kind of lead to this moment for you?

AL HORFORD: Yeah, man, just didn't know how to act. Just caught up, excited. A lot of hard work. I've been a part of a lot of great teams, a lot of great teammates, and I'm so proud of this group. These guys, I seen JB come in the league, take steps, take levels. I seen JT the same thing. I seen Smart grow. For me it's just special to be with them and be able to help them and be a part of this. I'm really grateful to be in this position.

JAYLEN BROWN: Nobody deserves it more than this guy on my right right here, man. His energy, his demeanor, coming in every day, being a professional, taking care of his body, being a leader, I'm proud to be able to share this moment with a veteran, a mentor, a brother, a guy like Al Horford, man. He's been great all season, really my whole career. I'm happy to be able to share this moment with somebody like him.

Q. Al, you played in a lot of playoff games, been on a lot of playoff journeys. This one in particular, what you guys have had to go through and overcome, winning this Game 7 on the road, when you look back, obviously they still have a lot to look forward to, but when you look back, what sticks out in your mind about how you guys have gotten to The Finals?

AL HORFORD: Really the process. Really everybody, Coach Udoka was very clear what he wanted us to be as a team, our identity, defensively, hang our hat on the defensive end. And on offense, play freely, use Jaylen and Jayson and just kind of just go. And us understanding and buying into that. It took us a while, but I feel like once we started to understand how we needed to play, we became more consistent.

This journey is not easy. We had a hard path. Brooklyn, Milwaukee, the defending champs, and Miami it's a team that look what they did, they took us to the brink. For our group it's resiliency, it's switching the page, moving on to the next thing, and we did that all season, and I really noticed it, and I was telling this to JB, but it was like February, early February, that I just noticed how we started to click.

People were like, well, you guys are beating teams that have guys out, guys are hurt and all these things, and I was like, it doesn't matter, I'm seeing something different in how we're playing. That's how we're just going to carry it on, and that's what we've been doing.

Q. Jaylen, this is kind of the first time since '08 that you guys can do something to the blank banner, banner 18, so to speak. What's your thought process there?

JAYLEN BROWN: Just a great opportunity. This is what all the work you put in your whole life for is to be in these moments, to play in the Finals, to represent not just the organization but your family, your community, your extended community. It doesn't get too much better than that. So we've got to embrace it, but also embrace the challenge because we're playing a team that's been there, done it before, and if we expect to win, we've got to come with our A game.

Q. Al, could you just describe what went through your mind as Jimmy is coming down in transition there? You were off of him and you were loaded, right?

AL HORFORD: Yeah, I was loaded. I didn't know what he was going to do. It seemed like he was going to go for the shot, but I had to make sure that I stayed solid and when he pulled up for the three, I was like, let me contest the best way that I can. He got a good look at it, and it was nerve-racking. It was nerve-racking. He pulled up, and anything could have happened there. He could have made the shot, and fortunately contested it enough, and he missed it, and we were able to get control of the ball.

Q. You've had an emotional week; what's this week been like for you?

AL HORFORD: You know, it's been difficult for me and my family. My grandfather was somebody that I was extremely close with, somebody that I really care for, and all week my mom, my family just kind of telling me to just go out there and play, that's something that he would have wanted me to do, to just continue on and really just try and stay focused and understand that he's at peace now.

Q. Al, this whole year you guys have built this great defense where Marcus is at the top, Rob is kind of behind you, you're in the middle. Both those guys have been in and out of this playoff run and you've continued to hold down the fort. What was the challenge in this series and especially tonight getting whatever stops you could and getting those rebounds?

AL HORFORD: Yeah, for us it's staying connected. Jaylen and all our guards did such a great job chasing their shooters. It's hard guarding Strus, it's hard guarding those guys, and Kyle Lowry, he's a very good veteran, very shifty, knows how to play. For me it was holding it down, being back there, supporting our guys and kind of being there for them and obviously watching for Bam making sure he's not getting behind me and things like that.

Defensively our team was really committed to it, and that was the key. We were really engaged, and like I said, that's what we've been doing all year. This game was even more important for us to be that way.

Q. Derrick after Game 6 said, if it's easy, it ain't us. You alluded to it earlier, both of you; just each step of the way has been difficult. Does that add a little satisfaction, the way that you were able to overcome over and over and own again to get to this point?

JAYLEN BROWN: Yeah, it's hard to win in this league, especially in the Playoffs. Any given night, things could go differently, but a good team is able to respond. A good team is able to put their best foot forward each and every night. There was a couple games we felt got away from us, and instead of carrying it like baggage we wore it like a badge of experience to help us get prepared for the next game.

We were tested. We've been through a lot. We've learned a lot over the years, and now the stage is at its brightest, we've got to apply everything that we've learned into these moments.

AL HORFORD: Yeah, and to Jaylen's point, winning is hard, and we've talked about this throughout the year, but even though we've played many years in the league and things like that, this team, this is us going through this process, figuring it out, understanding how to win with this team, with this group, and it's experience after experience. These are battle-tested teams that we've been playing, and we continue to grow.

Our team is just -- we're just trying to get better each game.

Q. [Inaudible]

AL HORFORD: Yeah, very grateful to God for putting me in this position. Actually this past week, I would look at -- on the phone I would look at photos from a year ago, exactly what I was doing at the moments, and today my son actually graduated from kindergarten. So I remember that we had pictures for him and I picked him up from school and we had the cupcakes and we had all this stuff. So it's like perspective for me, like I always look back and see where I was just day-to-day.

I'm just very grateful to be in this position with these guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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