Celtics Defend Joe Mazzulla After Game 7 Concludes Campaign

'I think Joe did a great job this year'


May 30, 2023

While Green Teamers spent much of the postseason criticizing Joe Mazzulla and even clamoring for the first-year head coach to lose his job, Boston Celtics players had their coach’s back to the very end.

The public defense of Mazzulla was common Monday night after Boston was dealt a season-ending loss to the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.

“I mean, it was his first year, we got to the conference finals Game 7. I don’t think people give him or us enough credit that, two days before season starts, we find out we’re going to have a new coach,” Jayson Tatum told reporters after the 103-84 defeat, per ASAP Sports. “We didn’t have Rob the first 25, 30 games of the season, we never got a chance to have (Danilo Gallinari), and we got a new coach one day before media day. You know, that was an adjustment. We all figured it out. Obviously, we wanted to win the championship. Didn’t happen.

“But I think Joe did a great job,” Tatum said. “We won 50-some odd games. We got to the Game 7 conference finals. Obviously, everybody can be better, learn from this. But I think Joe did a great job this year.”

Fellow All-NBA selection Jaylen Brown was just as complimentary.

“I give Joe my respect,” Brown told reporters, per ASAP Sports. “Tough situation to be in. And he took it and he took it head-on and ran with it. We had two rookie head coaches in the last two years, and Joe picking up from Ime (Udoka) as an interim starting off and then progressing as being the head coach, just fully took that challenge on and led us to this point. That’s a tough position for a guy to be in. It’s a tough position for a team to be in. Coming off of a Finals run, but we didn’t make any excuses and I’m not making any excuses now. We came up short.

“But I still give my respect to our coaching staff and that group that we had on the floor.”

Mazzulla initially was named the interim coach after the Celtics suspended Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 campaign due to multiple violations of team policy. Udoka reportedly had an improper relationship with a female subordinate. Mazzulla was named the team’s next head coach midway through the season when the Celtics put together a strong start to their regular season.

In the postseason, however, Mazzulla frequently looked like a first-year coach and was outclassed in Boston’s series against Erik Spoelstra’s Heat. He showed signs of improvement during the conference finals but ultimately didn’t put Boston in the best position to succeed. His unwavering offensive gameplan was perhaps the most notable example of that, changing the Celtics from a defensive-first group under Udoka to a 3-point-driven offense. It played a key role in Boston’s elimination as the team shot 20% and 21% from long range in Games 6 and 7, respectively.

Now the Celtics will have to determine if they want to keep Mazzulla at the helm, or if they want to hire a fourth coach in four years. Celtics players, at least publicly, seemingly would opt for the former.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins
Previous Article

What DeAndre Hopkins’ Projected Contract Could Mean For Patriots

NHL: Dallas Stars at Florida Panthers
Next Article

Predators Fire John Hynes, Name Andrew Brunette Head Coach

Picked For You