Joe Mazzulla Feels Celtics Still Haven’t ‘Gotten Better’ Vs. Hawks

'We gotta do a better job'


Apr 19, 2023

BOSTON — Improvements and adjustments are in place to be made by the Boston Celtics with their first-round series with the Hawks now heading for Atlanta.

With a 2-0 lead following Tuesday night’s 119-106 win over the Hawks in Game 2, the Celtics both did their job on their home floor and left plenty of room for improvement. And going up against an underdog Atlanta team, the series could go one of two ways. One, the C’s could dig deep and unleash some offensive firepower they’re due for. Or two, the trend could continue, thus allowing Atlanta to crawl back.

Either way, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla isn’t fully satisfied after what he’s seen from Boston two games into the series.

“As good as it feels, we still haven’t gotten better in two games cause we’re not able to control the shot margin the way we need to,” Mazzulla said. “They’re doing a great job taking away our threes while they’re kind of unleashing their guys and taking more. So we have to do a good job at not turning it over and we’re doing of defending without fouling. And there’s still I’d say 8-to-10 rebounds we could do a better job of coming up with.”

Atlanta was atrocious in executing its plan of shooting as many outside shots as possible to compete with Boston’s more mellow, smooth offensive rhythm. But then again, despite going just 16-for-48 from beyond the arc, the Hawks still managed to give the C’s a run for their money in the later minutes of the game.

The Celtics appeared to have the game in the bag, going up 20 in the third quarter. But the Hawks flew back into contention quickly, cutting that lead down to just nine before the start of the fourth. They also, as Mazzulla highlighted, attempted 15 more shots than the Celtics (101-86).

“If they shoot well, there might be less chances for offensive rebounds,” Mazzulla said. “… Out of the 19 offensive rebounds, some of them are 50-50 balls, some of them you can’t get so we gotta look at the ones we can control. We gotta do a better job of getting them.”

Granted, Mazzulla has stuck with the same eight-man rotation of Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon Robert Williams III and Sam Hauser primarily, therefore, searching for a spark from others such as Grant Williams or Blake Griffin is an option still in play with Boston now two wins shy of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Celtics teammates Malcolm Brogdon and Grant Williams
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