Why Joe Mazzulla Values Celtics Facing Heat For Two Straight Games

'The Heat bring the best out of you'

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November 30, 2022

The Boston Celtics made much easier work of the Miami Heat relative to their first meeting of the 2022-23 season, defeating the fellow Eastern Conference foe, 134-121, at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

While it’s only November and the vast majority of the regular season is yet to come, there’s plenty of value in facing off against the team who stood in the way of the Celtics during last season’s Eastern Conference finals. Especially when the opportunity is there to face off against that same team in back-to-back games.

Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla noted the value is getting to see the Heat twice in three days, noting the playoff-like scenario against a Heat squad that “bring the best” out of the Celtics.

“Our guys clearly know when they’re playing well and when they need to be better,” Mazzulla said, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “And they did a great job holding themselves accountable to the game plan, and then to moments of where we can get better. … The Heat bring the best out of you, so it was good that our guys responded.”

In their first matchup since Boston eliminated Miami and advanced to the NBA Finals, the Heat gave the Celtics a convincing run for their money but fell, 111-104. While the same can’t be said for round two, the Heat did show some noteworthy fight down the stretch while also scoring 120-plus points for just the second time through their first 22 games played thus far.

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“It’s a challenge to win one NBA game,” Mazzulla said. “It’s a challenge to win a playoff series, so this is a good opportunity for us to watch film, figure out what we did well, where we can adjust, and it’s no different than a playoff series.”

Derrick White, who scored 15 points with five assists in the win, also credited the valiant effort displayed by the Miami side.

“They’re a good team,” White said, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “A lot of good players. There’s a lot of familiarity between the two teams. So, just kind of have to throw out new things at them. Just go back to the basics, play a little harder and try to get some stops in. We got enough down the stretch to pull away a little bit. … We just gotta step up and get stops.”

The Celtics, now winners of now 10 straight on their home floor, return to TD Garden to play the Heat again on Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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