One of the main questions coming into the season was who would be the head coach of the Boston Celtics? After a very successful season last year under first-year head coach Ime Udoka, the head coach position should have been the least of worries for the Boston Celtics.
This was until a report came out involving Udoka breaking team protocols. The report indicated he had a consensual relationship with a team staff member. This resulted in a year-long suspension, just weeks before opening night.
A once fortified position was now in utter chaos. It created a hole that needed to be filled, and fast.
In Comes Joe Mazulla
Boston wasted no time. Within days, the Celtics named Joe Mazzulla interim head coach for the 2022 season. Mazzulla joined the Celtics in 2019 as an assistant coach under coach Brad Stevens. He remained an assistant under Stevens through 2021.
At the end of 2020-21 season, Stevens transitioned to a front office position. He named Udoka as his successor, whom Mazulla remained an assistant under in 2022.
It didn’t take long to transition to Mazulla. Almost instantly the players bought in to their new head coach. Pre-season press conferences were filled with the words “we love Joe” by the players when asked about their new head coach.
From the start of the season, you could see the changes implemented by Mazzulla. The changes were major, transitioning from a defensive-minded team to an offensive juggernaut.
The Celtics have improved in every major offensive category to begin the year. They’ve upped their scoring from 111 to 120 points per game. They’re doing this while also shooting more 3’s and shooting a higher percentage from deep.
Mazzulla has instilled the mindset of not passing up quality shots into all of his players. With a roster that’s loaded with shooters, this has worked extremely well to begin the year. Overall the Celtics just play smarter than almost everyone else. High quality shots has been the name of the game thus far.
What’s to Come
Although the offense flowing and humming on all cylinders, not all is perfect in Beantown. There have been questions surrounding the Celtics’ defense in the early season. Boston looked like a shell of its former self defensively early in the year.
However, the defensive efforts over the last few games have improved. Great performances against quality teams such as the Nets, Raptors, and Suns have quietly snuck the Celtics back into the top ten in defensive rating. They will look to keep improving on that side of the ball, especially with the incoming return of high-flying Robert Williams.
At this point of the season, the Boston Celtics have completely bought into Mazzulla. He has used a unique way to motivate his team, using sandcastles as a reference to keep going and never be satisfied. Strange, but effective apparently.
Last week Jayson Tatum shared this with the public. Tatum said that Mazzulla states, “you can build the best sandcastle on vacation, but the tide can come and wash it all away.”
The mindset the team has bought into is that wins are good, but the most important win is the next one. While the Celtics admit this is cheesy, mindsets like this are clearly working. Mazzulla has his team playing extremely well and off to a league-best 21-5 record to so far this season.
Facing The Tide
Mazzulla and the Celtics will look to continue their early-season success. Their next game comes Saturday, December 10th against the Golden State Warriors. This game comes with a chance at revenge for last year’s final loss. It should be a game that will warrant all eyes on it.