Danny Ainge Has ‘Legendary’ Words for Joe Mazzulla Before Celtics Loss

Joe Mazzulla, Al Horford, Boston Celtics

Getty Joe Mazzulla, Al Horford, Boston Celtics

Danny Ainge knows a thing or two about what it’s like to be under the bright lights that come with leading the Boston Celtics. 

When speaking to Jay King of The Athletic before Boston’s March 18 loss to the Utah Jazz, Ainge discussed what he’s seen from Joe Mazzulla this season and what it was like working with the now head coach when he was an assistant under Brad Stevens.

“I just always liked Joe’s work ethic, his focus, his intelligence,” Ainge said. “I feel like Joe is one of those guys — one way that I’ve always measured greatness is how much a person can learn from mistakes they make. Joe’s going to learn from his mistakes, just like Will Hardy learns from his mistakes quickly. … The coaches that learn and move on, they become the legendary coaches. And I think both Joe and Will have a chance to be those.”

Mazzulla is currently under significant pressure from the Celtics fanbase following a string of poor performances, including their recent losses to both the Jazz and the Houston Rockets – two of the lower-seeded teams in the Western Conference.

Celtics Urged to Cut Marcus Smarts Minutes

According to a March 16 article from Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, the Celtics should consider cutting Marcus Smarts’ playing time in an effort to change the current malaise we’re seeing from the team down the stretch.

“Marcus Smart has been Boston’s emotional leader since shortly after his arrival as the No. 6 pick of the 2014 draft,” Buckley wrote. “He’s been their starting point guard since last season. Cutting into his court time would be an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s probably one Boston needs to have anyway.”

Smart has been struggling of late and recently admitted to playing with an ankle injury that has been limiting his mobility, thus affecting his defensive play and consistency when on the court. In 54 games this season, Smart is averaging 11.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game while shooting 41.3% from the field and 33.4% from deep.

Robert Williams Set to Return From Injury

When speaking to the media on March 15, ahead of the Celtics’ victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Mazzulla shared an encouraging update on the potential timeline for Robert Williams’ return from a hamstring injury.

“He went through it pretty good,” Mazzulla said, “Still on the timeline. Hopefully, within the next week or so…He responded well to the workout yesterday. Today was a lighter day for him.”

Williams has struggled for health this season, having only played in 28 games, and hasn’t looked like the defensive menace we saw last year, in part due to opponents adjusting and also in part due to him not being at full fitness. However, Williams is still providing 8.4 points, and 8.6 rebounds per game, along with countless shot attempts being affected by his presence around the rim.

The Celtics will be back in action on March 21, when they face off against the impressive and surging Sacramento Kings in what will be their biggest test and final game of their six-game road trip.