Joe Mazzulla will be entering his fifth game as the Boston Celtics head coach on Friday, October 28, when his team faces off against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Celtics’ last two head coaches have been very different characters, with Brad Stevens being heavily focused on X’s and O’s, and Ime Udoka more of a player personnel type leader. Speaking to Sports Illustrated Chris Mannix for an October 25 article, Mazzulla noted how he’s hoping to blend the best of both Stevens and Udoka into his own coaching style.
“This team has been coached by two great coaches. One [Stevens] was technical and very deliberate, another [Udoka] had great feel, [offered] player empowerment and so I got to see both. I think the team is going to need a version of everybody. And I think based on how the short term goes, you decide what a team needs in that moment. To predetermine how you’re going to coach your team throughout a season, I don’t think is the right way to go about it because you never know what you’re going to go through, whether it’s good or bad,” Mazzulla said.
Boston has started the season by notching three wins in their first four games, and hopefully, Mazzulla can work with the team over the next few days to help implement a more robust defensive scheme – something he would have learned last season as an assistant head coach to Udoka.
Mazzulla Sounds Off After Ejection Against Bulls
On October 24, Mazzulla found himself being ejected from the Celtics game against the Chicago Bulls due to arguing with the referee’s over their decision not to levy a technical foul onto Nikola Vucevic.
Speaking to the media during the post-game press conference, Mazzulla looked inwards in his analysis of the moment, sharing his belief that he needs to handle the adverse moments with more poise moving forwards.
“I have to have better composure under the circumstances…I was just trying to get the referee’s attention. In moments like that, you just have to be more composed, and do a better job,” Mazzulla said.
Of course, Mazzulla wasn’t the only member of the Celtics rotation that saw their participation in the game against Chicago cut short, as Grant Williams was also ejected for making unnecessary contact with a referee. So, it looks like there are multiple members of the Celtics roster that need to process their emotions in a more suitable way as they navigate through the upcoming season.
Al Horford Urges Celtics to Improve on The Glass
A significant issue the Celtics have dealt with to start the season has been their inability to control the defensive glass – primarily due to their lack of size in the front-court. During Boston’s loss to the Bulls, the Celtics were outrebounded 45-60, as Chicago made solid use of their additional size and physicality in the paint.
It would seem that such a large disparity in the rebounding numbers didn’t sit right with Horford, who when speaking with the media following the game, took the opportunity to implore his teammates to become more hungry for rebounds.
“We have to be better (at rebounding), the way that we’re playing now, we’re playing with four guards out there, trying to play fast and do things. It’s an understanding that everybody has to get in there and rebound, especially when we’re cross-matched…We have to find a way to come up with them (rebounds) because that’s the way we’re gonna be able to play that style,” Horford said.
Horford ended the contest against Chicago with eight points, five rebounds, and two assists on 42.9% shooting from the field and 33.3% shooting from deep, yet despite his encouraging defensive performance, the veteran big man is correct, Boston does need to improve their rebounding. Because, the Celtics’ next game will see them face off against Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, and that will tell us a lot about how successful Boston can be at defending their own glass.