When speaking to the media on May 4, Mazzulla decided to poke fun at those who have been doubting him, ending his press conference by stating, ‘I’m the worst coach ever’ as he walked away from the camera, with the video going viral among Celtics fans online.
However, on May 5, Mazzulla moved to clarify his comments, stating that he realized he had forgotten to congratulate Marcus Smart on winning the 2023 hustle award.
While questions surrounding Mazzulla’s game management and willingness to call timeouts are certainly fair, it’s also worth remembering that he has led the Celtics to a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference with a 57-25 record in his first season as a head coach.
Furthermore, Mazzulla has steered his team into the Eastern Conference semi-finals, where they are tied with a team that boasts the 2023 MVP, although, in fairness, he is playing through a legitimate knee injury. As such, it’s hard to envision the fanbase being so disenchanted with a coach that is presiding over what could be, another incredibly successful season.
Marcus Smart Praises Joe Mazzulla
Following the Celtics’ victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, Marcus Smart credited Mazzulla’s coaching performance this season, sharing that he was proud of Mazzulla’s accomplishments this season.
“I’m proud of him,” Smart said. “We expect to be perfect sometimes, and we forget this is his first year in this spot with the reins, and he’s doing a phenomenal job at it. He’s doing a great job. But we’ve got to relax and let him learn as well. He understands; he has his staff there, they’re talking, and they’re going to make the right adjustments.”
Smart, the 2023 winner of the NBA Hustle Award, has continued to excel as the Celtics’ starting point guard, producing a statline of 11.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game while shooting 41.5% from the field and 33.6% from three-point range, while also playing some stellar defense, both on the perimeter and as an undersized defender in the post.
Marcus Smart Expects the Celtics to Adapt
When speaking to Heavy on Sports’ Steve Bulpett in an exclusive interview following Boston’s May 3 victory, he discussed the adjustments Boston had made between their game one loss and game two win, noting how he expects his team continue adjusting throughout the postseason.
“We’re human, and it’s not going to be perfect,” Smart said. “We’re playing against some great teams, great players. It’s the playoffs. And in the playoffs, we all know it’s about adjustments. It’s about adapting. You know, last game they came out and they had a game plan. They executed and they won. This we came out, we had a game plan we had to adapt to their game plan, and we won. So it’s all about adapting and making the right changes.”
The Celtics and Sixers will face off for game three of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals on May 5, in front of what is expected to be a packed Wells Fargo Arena, as Joel Embiid is awarded his 2023 MVP trophy.