Celtics Coach Sounds Off on Potential Mental Block Against Warriors

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

Getty Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors are slated to take on the Boston Celtics for the second time this season on Thursday, January 19. In their first meeting of the year, their first time facing off since the Warriors took down Boston in the 2022 NBA Finals, Golden State picked up a big-time win.

Now, there’s a narrative in the NBA media that the Celtics have a mental block when it comes to playing the Warriors. Ahead of their January 19 game, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla was asked about said mental block, but he said that it doesn’t seem to be affecting his team in the way people have said it does.

“I didn’t really ask them that,” Mazzulla said. “I’m sure they think about it… I’m not going to sit here and say they haven’t, but I don’t think it’s something that consumes them.”

December 10 was the first time the two sides faced off this season, and the matchup took place at Chase Center in San Francisco. The Warriors earned a 123-107 victory, dominating the Celtics on their home floor.

This time around, however, there are some new factors Golden State needs to account for. First and foremost, their January 19 matchup will take place in Boston at TD Garden, and the Warriors are notably one of the worst road teams in the NBA this year.

But perhaps more importantly, the Celtics were missing key pieces the first time these two teams squared off this year – Al Horford and Robert Williams were both out, and Boston started Blake Griffin. This time around, those two players are active, and it could lead to a closer, more intense game.

Jaylen Brown Sends Message Ahead of Warriors Tilt

In addition to Mazzulla’s comments about the contest, Celtics star Jaylen Brown spoke about it as well. He talked about their experience in the Finals and what they need to do moving forward against Golden State.

According to Brown, the Celtics need to do a better job at not playing into the Warriors’ hands.

“I think that was the biggest thing for us,” Brown told Jay King of The Athletic. “Against the Warriors we were kind of playing into their hands at times. When you make the wrong read, they’re coming back and putting a lot of pressure on you with their shooting ability. We’ve gotta be able to more so [throughout] the game, make the right read.”

Warriors Interested in Payton Pritchard Trade

But their Finals showdown and in-season matchups aren’t the only instances where the two teams have been intertwined as of late. On top of that, ahead of the February 9 trade deadline, the Warriors are supposedly interested in a Celtics player. Brian Robb of MassLive reported that Golden State has shown an interest in potentially trading for Payton Pritchard.

“Payton Pritchard’s lack of consistent playing time in the Celtics rotation has unsurprisingly led to a number of playoff teams inquiring about the availability of the reserve guard including the defending champion Golden State Warriors, league sources tell MassLive,” Robb wrote. “Despite these overtures, the Celtics have shown no interest in trading the 25-year-old guard to this point, according to multiple sources, with Pritchard re-entering Boston’s rotation during the past week following Jaylen Brown’s injury.”

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