Boston, January 14: Boston Celtics center Al Horford will not get carried away with the team's blistering NBA season so far, insisting the focus should be on sustained development of their roster.
The Celtics sit top of the Eastern Conference with a 34-10 record but Horford, 31, is – along with Aron Baynes (31) and Marcus Morris (29) – among the older members of the playing staff at TD Garden.
Bookmakers make the Celtics third favourites, behind reigning champions the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, to win the NBA title in 2018, but Horford believes that would be a big ask for the Celtics' young stars.
"That's a big challenge," he told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of Tissot. "I think for our group, we have a really young group and we need to keep building this season.
"We've got better from the first game of the season until now. That needs to be our mentality.
"We hope that by the end of the year we're playing at a high level and that we're competing and able to be in that position. It's hard but we feel good about it.
"We have a young team and I think that it's important to beat the top teams and understand that we can play with anyone. I think that we've proven that earlier in the season and we just have to keep that going."
Hear how the Celtics viewed the grueling first half of the season, as they return from London and stare down remainder of their campaign. pic.twitter.com/7Di4m93jGn— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 13, 2018
The Celtics are amid a seven-game winning streak following their victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in London.
Horford and Boston face the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday (January 16).