Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla ran toward all blame after a dreadful defeat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat.
The Heat wiped the floor with the Celtics on Sunday night en route to a 128-102 win at Kaseya Center to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. And after an embarrassing showing, Mazzulla put the loss squarely on his shoulders.
“I just didn’t have them ready to play,” Mazzulla told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston postgame coverage. “I didn’t have them execute the proper game plan, I didn’t put them in the right mentality to be ready and it’s my job to make sure that they’re connected and that they’re ready to play. And I didn’t do that.”
Mazzulla repeatedly pointed the finger at himself for Boston’s no-show effort, but Al Horford wouldn’t go that far. Instead, the veteran forward believes it is the players who hold the weight of the responsibility for the Celtics’ massive Game 3 failure, in which they trailed by as much as 33 points late in the third quarter.
“Coach is saying that, he’s being generous,” Horford told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston postgame coverage. “But at the end of the day that falls on each player. We know what we have to do. We knew the magnitude of this game. As a player, I take responsibility because we didn’t have what we needed to have. That’s what that is.”
Mazzulla tried to push a button to spark his team prior to the contest when he put Derrick White back into the starting lineup for Robert Williams. That move didn’t pay any dividends. Asked whether he is being vocal enough with his players in the locker room, Mazzulla didn’t have an answer and continued to take fault for the position the Celtics currently are in.
“At the time, you think you say what needs to be said,” Mazzulla said. “But at the same time, I just have to be better. I got to make sure when we step on the floor that we’re ready to execute, we’re ready to be physical, we’re ready to play harder than the other team. That’s my job.”