Billy Donovan didn’t mind the Celtics keeping their foot on the gas Tuesday night, but the Bulls head coach wishes Boston went about the blowout in a different way.
The C’s needed to beat Chicago by at least 23 points — and a Brooklyn Nets win over the Toronto Raptors — to advance in the inaugural NBA in-season tournament. So even when Boston’s lead extended into the 30s at TD Garden, head coach Joe Mazzulla kept his starters in the game and employed tactics often used in narrow, high-pressure contests.
One of those strategies was intentionally fouling Bulls center Andre Drummond, a career 47.6% shooter from the free-throw line. Donovan wasn’t crazy about the overt hacking, but he appreciated Mazzulla’s transparency.
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“I just thought it was putting Andre in a tough spot in a 30-point game,” Donovan told reporters, per MassLive. “I didn’t like that. But (Mazzulla) was great when we talked. I understand what they were trying to do. And listen, this is for the league. So I understand. But this is what the league has done that they’ve made this point differential thing.”
Mazzulla ended up apologizing to Drummond after the Celtics’ 124-97 win, which allowed Boston to advance to the knockout stage of the in-season tournament. While Tuesday’s game on Causeway Street certainly wasn’t a black eye for the league, it did suggest the NBA might want to consider tweaking the in-season tournament rules ahead of next season.
Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images