Al Horford on Tobias Harris trade, Boston Celtics, and chocolate milk

The FanSided video team recently interviewed Al Horford on topics such as this year’s Boston Celtics teams, the recent Tobias Harris trade, and his new partnership with Built with Chocolate Milk.

Al Horford might be the Boston Celtics’ center and glue guy, but there’s something else he wants the world to know: he loves chocolate milk. Seriously.

News of his new partnership with Built with Chocolate Milk, an organization that is dedicated to spreading the word about the health and recovery benefits of drinking chocolate milk after a workout, was discussed in an interview with FanSided’s Mark Carman. Yes, you read that right.

The conversation, which also centered around the state of the Celtics, their goals moving forward, and the recent Tobias Harris trade, revealed a lot of interesting opinions from Big Al as the NBA creeps closer to the 2018-19 trade deadline.

On the topic of Harris, Horford was just as surprised as NBA Twitter when the news broke, and he acknowledged the new dynamic of the Philadelphia 76ers.

“[I’m] shocked. I did not see that coming,” Horford said. “Tobias is a great player, and with that group of players there, there’s no question that [the 76ers] are even tougher now.”

The Celtics trounced the 76ers in a gentleman’s sweep in the second round of last year’s playoffs, but Philadelphia has taken on an entire new look. With Harris on board, Philly has four all-star caliber players, as opposed to their two young all-stars last season.

Boston has defeated Philadelphia in both of its matchups this season, though. It hasn’t come from amazing individual output from Horford, however, as he struggled to score in both games against Joel Embiid. With Harris’ dangerous 3-point shooting, Horford will have even less interior help against Embiid, and may have a tougher time saving enough energy for both ends over a seven-game series.

But Horford isn’t too worried yet. He doesn’t listen to the noise, and is thinking more about the 2018-19 Boston Celtics than the 2018-19 Philadelphia 76ers.

“If people wanna say that [the 76ers] are their favorite [in the East], that’s fine,” Horford said. “When I look at our group and our team I just want to make sure that we’re playing at a high level come playoff time, and I’ll take my chances against anyone.”

The Celtics currently sit at third in the Eastern Conference, but have been the second-hottest team in the league since the turn of the calendar year, posting a 14-4 record in 2019. This trails only the Milwaukee Bucks (15-3), who also happen to presently sit atop the Eastern Conference throne.

Their recent run of 10 wins in their last 11 games has been encouraging, but their overall standing in the NBA isn’t where most expected them to be this year. The team as a whole as well as individual players have underachieved, particularly at the beginning of the season.

Just a week ago Boston sat in the 5th seed in the East. Growth is coming, but they still have big shoes to fill. Horford touched on these expectations in more detail.

“It’s two different teams,” Horford said of this season’s roster compared to last season’s. “Last year, there wasn’t that many expectations, and I think that we overachieved with the group that we had. This year, there are a lot of expectations – we have Kyrie, we have Gordon back – and it’s taken time for us to get to play to that level that we want to play in.

“I think we’re going to continue to get better. I feel like we’ve been getting better month-to-month since the season started, and we hope that continues to be the case.”

The Celtics trail the Bucks by 5.5 games as we approach the All-Star break. The odds of them claiming the top seed in the East seem less likely than they did at the start of the year, and a potentially pesky first-round matchup in the Brooklyn Nets could be in the cards.

The Nets have the East’s sixth seed, and are a fair 6 games behind the 76ers, making it unlikely for them to rise much higher in the standings. If the Celtics’ third-seeded position holds, Boston will have to deal with the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris Levert in the first round.

Compliment that with a potential Toronto Raptors second-round opponent, and the Celtics have a somewhat tough road to the Eastern Conference Finals. The stakes couldn’t be higher in this year’s postseason, either, with the free agency of Kyrie Irving looming and a potential trade for Anthony Davis coming this summer.

As per usual, Al Horford is unphased by such thoughts. He likes the direction Boston is going in in the latter half of the season, and feels that Kyrie is locked in despite the recent free agency rumors. He also wasn’t worried about his phone call with LeBron James, citing that he also keeps in touch with a lot of his former teammates.

“As long as we continue to play defense at a high level – and on offense we’ve been clicking over the last month – and just continue to improve with that, I think that that’s gonna put us in the position to be right where we want to be at the end of the year,” Horford said.

If they get past the trade deadline without any changes, this iteration of the Boston Celtics team (minus potential buyouts) has 28 games left to prepare for this crucial postseason. As long as Al Horford gets his chocolate milk, they should be in good shape.