The low point of Joe Mazzulla's turbulent season has come. And now that the Boston Celtics are in danger of going home, the rookie coach is taking re
The low point of Joe Mazzulla’s turbulent season has come. And now that the Boston Celtics are in danger of going home, the rookie coach is taking responsibility.
After a 128-102 Heat rout on Sunday night that may not have even been as close as the score would suggest, the Celtics are in jeopardy that no club in NBA history has ever managed to escape. Miami leads the Eastern Conference finals 3-0.
“I think the most important thing is just sticking together, and then I have to be better,” Mazzulla, 34, the youngest coach in the NBA, stated. “I’ve got to put them in better positions. I’ve got to get them ready to play. I have to have the game plan ready for us to be physical and to execute, and it’s important that we stick together.”
For the Celtics, this series has been a complete failure. The dam may have burst in Game 3 since they’re allowing the Heat to shoot 52% from the field and 48% from 3-point range, compared to the Celtics’ 29% attempt from beyond the arc. This one was never in doubt after Games 1 and 2 were settled late in Boston with the Heat finding a way both times.
“I just didn’t have them ready to play,” said Mazzulla.
That’s a serious accusation, especially given how Mazzulla’s past seven to eight months have gone. Since Ime Udoka was suspended, he was forced to take over as temporary coach of the Celtics even though he wasn’t supposed to. The Celtics removed the interim tag shortly past the midway of the regular season, he coached in the All-Star Game, and he placed third in the Coach of the Year voting. The regular season was filled with victory after success.
But because of this series, all those enjoyable times seem to have passed. When Miami scored 46 points in the third quarter of Game 1 to completely turn around the game, he received criticism for not utilizing a timeout. He has also come under fire for not being fiery enough, but players have argued that the coach shouldn’t be solely blamed for the issues.
“I think it’s a collective effort,” said Celtics forward, Jaylen Brown.
Al Horford, a center for the Celtics, defended Mazzulla as well, saying that everyone is to blame at this point.
“At the end of the day, that falls on each player,” Horford said. “We know what we have to do. We knew the magnitude of this game. As a player, I take responsibility because we didn’t have what we needed to have. That’s what that is.”
Sports slang refers to this as “losing the locker room.” That is frequently very damning for a coach since it indicates that the players are either no longer motivated, no longer prepared, or no longer paying attention.
It is unclear if it has actually occurred, but it doesn’t matter. The Boston Celtics need a similar miracle in a city where the Red Sox made history in 2004 by rallying from 3-0 down to defeat the New York Yankees in the AL championship series.
“I have to be better, figure out what this team needs to make sure that they’re connected, they’re physical and they’re together by the time we step on the floor,” said Mazzulla.