The reactions from Celtics players when head coach Joe Mazzulla went back to Boston’s defensive-minded, double-big lineup during the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers were notable.

“I was ecstatic about (the change),” Marcus Smart told reporters after the series-extending Game 6 win in Philadelphia.

Fast-forward two weeks later and Malcolm Brogdon’s brutally honest assessment of Boston’s defense after its season-ending loss in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals served as another indication.

It told us this: Celtics players clearly didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Mazzulla in regards to his on-court philosophy.

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The first-year head coach turned a team that relied on its defense and rode it to the NBA Finals last season into an offensive-minded group that chucked up 3-pointers at a league-high rate. It caused Boston to lose its defensive identity at a key time and was a major reason behind the Celtics’ earlier-than-anticipated exit — despite Mazzulla’s unwillingness to admit it.

Celtics players know it, though.

In an extensive feature story three days after the Green’s campaign came to an end, The Athletic’s Jay King and Jared Weiss reported on the internal disagreement between Mazzulla and players.

“While the locker room generally supported Mazzulla’s leadership style, a key disagreement between the coaching staff and many of the team’s top players was rooted in the on-court philosophy,” The Athletic wrote Thursday. ” … Some of the players started to believe Mazzulla prioritized the offense too much, according to team sources.”

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The Athletic added: “Disagreement over Mazzulla’s approach showed in a film session during the second round that dove into the offense, when (Jaylen) Brown broke a huddle by saying, ‘One, two, three, defense,’ according to several sources in the room. Multiple players told The Athletic that while Mazzulla had shifted the team’s identity to be more balanced down the middle between offense and defense, they felt that defense wins championships and that last season proved that should be the priority. Players noted they sometimes would come out of the timeouts uncertain about defensive coverages and Blake Griffin, (Marcus) Smart, and Grant Williams, among others, would help the team work things out heading to the court before play resumed.”

In addition to the disagreement, The Athletic also peeled back the curtain on how Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck blasted the locker room after Boston fell behind 3-0 in Miami during the best-of-seven series. It proved an insurmountable deficit for the Green, who came up short in a winner-take-all Game 7 against the Heat on Monday.

Featured image via Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images