While the transition to interim head coach has gone smoothly for Joe Mazzulla, he isn’t taking all the credit for his blossoming debut campaign with the Boston Celtics.
That transition came abruptly to everyone involved with the Celtics. Following the one-year suspension of former head coach Ime Udoka during the offseason, Mazzulla, who had only served in an assistant role throughout his coaching career, was instantly promoted just weeks before the start of the 2022-23 Celtics season.
Yet, while tasked to coach a Celtics team fresh off an NBA Finals appearance, Mazzulla acknowledged the “priceless” contribution of team president of basketball operations Brad Stevens.
“Just constant communication as far as where we think the team is, where we think we can go, what we can get better at, and what we’re doing well,” Mazzulla said, according to The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “He’s always done a good job of homing in on what we’re doing well and what we could do better. So for him to be on the outside and seeing it from a different perspective has helped me narrow in on what’s important on both ends.
“As a first-time head coach, to have a guy who’s coached in the NBA, has coached in a lot of big games, and has coached this team and has a great feel for what’s going on, it’s priceless.”
Before Udoka made his debut head coaching run, Stevens spent the previous seven seasons serving under the role. The Stevens era came with three Eastern Conference finals appearances and just one playoff miss.
After just 22 games into the job, Mazzulla was recognized by the league and named Coach of the Month for the East. Since then and entering their latest game, against the Orlando Magic, the Celtics remain in possession of the NBA’s best record.