13-Year NBA Veteran Claps Back at Recent Criticism of Celtics Head Coach

Joe Mazzulla, Boston Celtics

Getty Joe Mazzulla, Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are back in the Eastern Conference finals following their game seven victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on May 14.

Throughout the Celtics’ second-round series, head coach Joe Mazzulla has come under scrutiny for his decision-making during the earlier games, especially his decision not to call a timeout at the end of game four.

However, according to 13-year NBA veteran Eddie Johnson, who played in the NBA between 1981 and 1994, Mazzulla is doing a solid job and has the Celtics playing his brand of basketball.

“All these pundits want to criticize Joe Mazzulla, who was thrust into a job because of the decisions two coaches before him made and has a chance to do better than both. I have protected him all year and will continue. No perfection in coaching. He has done it his way!” Johnson Tweeted.

It’s also worth noting that Mazzulla is currently navigating his rookie season as an NBA head coach. Furthermore, it was his adjustment to utilize both Robert Williams and Al Horford as part of the Celtics ‘double-big’ lineup that helped swing the series in the Celtics’ favor.

Doc Rivers Praises Joe Mazzulla

Following Philadelphia’s game seven loss, former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers spoke with Heavy on Sports Steve Bulpett, where he credited Mazzulla’s performance throughout the closely-fought series.

“Joe was dumb two weeks ago,” Rivers said in a sarcastic tone. “I told you that. Now he’s in the conference finals. Look, Joe’s doing a terrific job. When we were making shots and playing well, that wasn’t on Joe. It was never Joe. It’s always that you’ve got to execute, and you’ve got to play well, and it’s a make-miss league. I don’t think there was an issue on either side. One team beat the other team. That’s what happens.”

Following their success against the Sixers, Boston will now be faced with an Eastern Conference Finals rematch against the Miami Heat, who boast arguably the best head coach in the NBA in Erik Spoelstra.

Marcus Smart Recently Heaped Praise on Mazzulla

When speaking to the media following the Celtics’ game six victory over the Sixers, Marcus Smart was asked about Mazzulla’s adjustments to the starting lineup, which led the veteran guard to praise the job his head coach has been doing this season.

“I was ecstatic about it,” Smart said. “To be able to have Rob in there; he changes the game a lot. Being able to have a lob threat, a rim threat, to be able to protect the rim on the other end. He’s huge for us. And I was proud to have him on the court. And, that just goes to show, you know, Joe’s learning. Just like all of us. I know he’s been killed a lot – rightfully so. He needs to make some adjustments, and he did that, and that’s just all you can ask for; just continue to be the best that he can be. And it takes a full team effort.”

It will be interesting to see how Mazzulla copes with going head-to-head with Spoelstra in Boston’s upcoming series, which is due to get underway at the TD Garden on Wednesday, May 17.
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