The Boston Celtics officially removed Joe Mazzulla’s interim tag Feb. 16, making him the 19th head coach in franchise history.
The move mostly came with rave reviews, but one man in particular isn’t too fond of the decision.
“On one hand, I’m incredibly happy that Joe Mazzulla got the interim tag taken away and is the head coach of the Boston Celtics,” Stephen A. Smith said on Friday’s episode of ESPN’s “First Take.” “On the other hand, I make no apologies for the fact that it was premature.”
Smith’s opinion has some merit on a base level. Sure, the Celtics hold the NBA’s best record (43-17) through 60 games and have secured the top net rating (plus-6.1) in the league under Mazzulla, but there really wasn’t a rush into removing the tag.
It’s Smith’s reasoning that makes absolutely no sense.
“Coaching is important come postseason time,” Smith explained. “Those best-of-seven game series and the adjustments that need to be made, not just on the fly but preparing from game to game. That is a question mark that the Boston Celtics have yet to answer because obviously the postseason has not begun.
“Let’s not summarily dismiss that, particularly when you talk about going up against the likes of (Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike) Budenholzer or (Philadelphia 76ers head coach) Doc Rivers.”
Excuse us? Those are the options Smith went with when discussing tough coaching matchups in the Eastern Conference?
Yes, Budenholzer and Rivers both are NBA Finals winners, but they’ve each made a name over recent seasons for struggling to make in-game adjustments, particularly against the Celtics. Blake Griffin took a shot at Rivers just before the All-Star break for that exact reason.
Mazzulla is 3-1 against those coaches so far this season. Again, those are the coaches Smith decided to use to prove his point. Weird, but OK.