The Boston Celtics had things well in hand Wednesday night as their game against the Phoenix Suns shifted to the fourth quarter.
The Celtics led by 39 points and the Suns had already waved the white flag, pulling all their starters. But despite the massive advantage, Jaylen Brown was on the floor for the first two minutes of the final frame.
It was a curious decision by Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla to keep playing Brown, with the risk of the star guard sustaining an injury at the moment far outweighing anything else he could have provided.
Mazzulla admitted following the 125-98 victory at Footprint Center he really has no concept this early into his head coaching career as to when to take his starters out in a blowout affair.
“I don’t know. I have no idea. Still learning that,” Mazzulla told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston postgame coverage. “So, I have to get better at that.”
Mazzulla said sometimes players, like Jayson Tatum, will push to stay in the game as the coach tries to navigate how to get his starters rest while trying to keep the pedal to the floor.
“Yeah, we talk about it,” Mazzulla said. “Sometimes I listen to him, sometimes I don’t. Goes both ways. I’m learning that. It’s a hard balance of you want to make sure you are constantly playing to win and doing the details regardless of the score. So, you give those guys a chance to play the right way, work on certain things. Like there’s things that they want to work on. So, you just kind of have a feel for it.”
Mazzulla doesn’t have a feel for it yet, but it didn’t hurt the Celtics against the Suns with not one member of the team playing more than 29 minutes.
The extra rest should do Boston some good as it gets set for an NBA Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors on Saturday with tipoff from Chase Center scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.