Joe Mazzulla deservedly received a ton of praise for the play he drew up for the Celtics’ final possession Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center.
However, Boston’s head coach can’t take all the credit.
After Boston advanced the basketball and called a timeout with 5.9 seconds left and the game against the 76ers tied, Mazzulla had Derrick White inbound the basketball and feed it to Marcus Smart. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year took one step and delivered a bounce pass to Jayson Tatum, who had a head of steam after starting the play in the backcourt. The 2023 MVP candidate planted his foot, stepped back and knocked down a go-ahead 3-pointer. The clutch shot proved to be the game-winner after Joel Embiid’s impressively sunken heave was waved off.
“I stole it from Brad (Stevens),” Mazzulla told reporters, per The Athletic’s Jared Weiss.
While Mazzulla can’t take complete ownership of the play design, he might not have even had a chance to draw it up had it not been for great timeout management. The 34-year-old elected not to stop play when the Sixers took a lead with 1:30 left, and the decision ultimately allowed the Celtics to put their best player in an ideal position to win the game.
It was yet another series of sound choices by Mazzulla, who’s currently the odds-on favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook to win Coach of the Year.