President of Basketball Operations, Brad Stevens, moved swiftly to elevate Joe Mazzulla from his role as an assistant coach into the role of head coach as he seeked to keep continuity within the roster.
When speaking to Scoop ‘B’ Robinson of Bally Sports in a recent interview, Malcolm Brogdon, who joined the Celtics this past summer via trade, spoke of how his Celtics teammates credited Mazzulla with their stellar defensive strategy that saw them make the NBA Finals.
“I actually didn’t know anything about him at all,” Brogdon said. “And then once I got here before the situation, a few guys told me that he was sort of the mastermind behind our defense and everything in the Finals, and his game plan, his adjustments, and his scouting reports were really good.”
Brogdon has been a valuable addition for Boston and is averaging 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 48.5% from the field and 45.7% from three-point range.
Joe Mazzulla Could Have Been Boston’s 2nd Choice
When speaking on a March 20 episode of Heavy on Sports Celtics Collective Podcast, Keith Smith shared his belief that had Will Hardy still been on Boston’s coaching staff, Mazzulla would still be an assistant coach.
“Let’s put it this way, had Will Hardy not gotten the jazz job, I think Will Hardy is the coach of the team right now,” Smith said. “Because I think he was brought in as Ime Udoka’s second guy. He was the next guy up. Then he left, then Udoka had his nonsense and ridiculousness and gets sent away. And then it’s alright, well, Damon Stoudamire, Is he gonna be with the team? What are we doing? He’s got one year or a couple of years, I guess, of college head coaching experience. Mazzulla has been around for a long time because people forget he was with Brad on his staff. So then it becomes, alright, let’s elevate Mazzulla.”
Mazzulla has led the Celtics to a 49-23 record this season, although his team has begun to show signs of regression in recent weeks, which has left fans feeling uneasy this close to the postseason.
Joe Mazzulla Urges Celtics to Improve
When speaking to the media following the Celtics’ March 13 loss to the Houston Rockets, Mazzulla discussed the areas in which his team needs to improve if they want to get back to the level they showed in the opening months of the season.
“Those are concerning, the margins,” Mazzulla said, “The free throws, the rebounding, the turnovers, the second chances. Regardless of who you play, that’s playoff basketball at its finest. The ability to win those situations. So, it’s concerning that we’re inconsistent in that, and we have to be committed to those, regardless. Regardless of who we’re playing, regardless of the situation, regardless of how many games are left, it doesn’t matter. You have to be committed to those.”
The Celtics are scheduled to compete against the Sacramento Kings on March 21 in what will be the final game of their six-game road trip – a contest which they will be hoping to win, so they can get their season back on track.