Joe Mazzulla Details ‘Huge Area of Growth’ in Year 2 as Celtics Head Coach

A welcomed break in their schedule afforded the Celtics the increasingly infrequent opportunity to practice during the regular season; the timing’s ideal with them in need of recalibrating.

After a relentless stretch in the Celtics’ schedule, playing seven games in 12 days, Boston utilized a welcome break to return to the Auerbach Center for something that becomes increasingly less common as the regular season progresses — practice.

The timing is ideal with the Celtics in need of recalibrating. While they’re 37-12, boasting the best record in the NBA, they’re coming off a 114-105 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers despite the purple and gold playing without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It was a performance that earned them boos from the TD Garden faithful.

Head coach Joe Mazzulla said he had a “sense of excitement” to get in a practice session a day before Sunday’s matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies and Marcus Smart’s return to TD Garden, albeit in street clothes due to a severe right ring finger injury.

After Saturday’s session, Boston’s bench boss shared that a priority was “re-connectivity and the re-emphasis of our early offense. I think sometimes we, my part included, sometimes, I’ll mess up the flow of the game (by) calling a set that the guys don’t see, I see a set, they see something different, and then we’re kind of disconnected for the first eight seconds of the shot clock. 

“So, just be connecting on our early offense reads, early offense points of emphasis, and continue to work our defense and making sure the game is connected. When your transition defense is bad, it’s because your offense is bad. When your rebounding is bad, it’s because (of) your shift activity in the first line of your defense, whether it’s the pick and roll coverage or your individual defense. So, just kind of get reconnected on those things.

Mazzulla, who’s placing more of his imprint on this Celtics team after being in “survival mode” upon getting thrust into the job last season, which includes helping them win on the margins, conveyed, “I think that’s a huge area of growth for me with this team this year. How can my play calling and what I see in the game not hurt the rhythm or the connectivity of our game, and call them the right play at the right time and then allowing them to call the sets and see what they see in our early offense reads? 

“Which, moments of greatness, we’re really good at it. So, that was a good conversation that we had today. And that’s something I’m aware of for myself is making sure the play calls are timely (and) making sure they’re keeping the rhythm and the connectivity of the team. So, it was good to do that on the court today.”



Gideon Canice

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