Celtics Warned About Heat’s ‘Scab-Picker’ Ahead of Eastern Conference Finals

Joe Mazzulla, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Boston Celtics

Getty Joe Mazzulla, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Boston Celtics

As the Boston Celtics gear up for their Eastern Conference Finals series opener against the Miami Heat, their coaching staff will be looking to pinpoint areas of weakness.

Yet, according to an Eastern Conference scout, who spoke with Heavy on Sports’ Sean Deveney under the condition of anonymity, Joe Mazzulla and the Celtics coaching staff should keep a close eye on the playcalling of Erik Spoelstra.

“The thing with the Heat is that we call them scab-pickers,” The scout said. “Spoelstra is a scab-picker. It’s a great thing to be, and it’s like coaches don’t want to be known for that, but Spo does not mind. It’s basically, something works; go back to it. You gave your opponent a scab, go and pick at it, man. Spoelstra does that. When something works, he is going to keep going to it until it stops working, until you adjust to it. He has a rep as a great coach for adjustments, but the fact is, he does not make adjustments until he has to. He is going to make YOU adjust first.”

As such, the spotlight will likely be on Mazzulla’s ability and willingness to make in-game adjustments to stop Miami from continually attacking a weak point they’ve been able to expose.

Malcolm Brogdon vs. Kyle Lowry a ‘Key’ Matchup

According to the same Eastern Conference scout who spoke with Deveney, the Celtics’ ability to swiftly close out their series against the Heat could hinge on the matchup between Malcolm Brogdon and Kyle Lowry.

“One of the matchups, and I don’t know how much they will directly match up, but just as the guys off the bench, one of the matchups that is going to be really important is (Malcolm) Brogdon and how he does against how Kyle Lowry does,” The scout said. “I don’t know why people are not talking about Brogdon more…If he wins that matchup with Lowry and wins it big—like he should—this is going to be a short series.”

Brogdon was recently named as the 2023 Sixth Man of the Year and has continued his impressive form off the bench throughout the Celtics’ playoff run thus far. During the first 13 playoff games of Boston’s postseason, Brogdon is averaging 14.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 45.5% from two-point range and 43.5% from deep.

Jaylen Brown Urges Celtics to ‘Remain Focused’

When speaking to the media on May 16, during a post-practice media availability, All-Star forward Jaylen Brown spoke of the Celtics’ need to remain focused throughout their playoff series against Miami.

“They got a different team in a sense that they got some injuries,” Brown said. “Some guys are playing better than they were last year. It’s not the same team as last year. Jimmy is still Jimmy, and [Erik Spoelstra] is still Spo, so we gotta make sure that we’re aware of everybody else: Kevin Love, [Max] Strus, Duncan Robinson’s playing in this series. We just got to be alert.”

The Celtics will play the first two games of their Eastern Conference Finals series in front of their hometown crowd at the TD Garden, as they hold homecourt advantage.

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