Brad Stevens Says Joe Mazzulla Will Return As Celtics Coach Despite ECF Loss
Brad Stevens, president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics, said Thursday that rookie coach Joe Mazzulla will return after a “good job” guiding the team in the 2022-23 season. Mazzulla led Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Miami Heat in seven games.
Some Celtics fans, particularly those expecting to win a championship this season, have been critical of nearly every aspect of the team’s postseason performance, including Mazzulla’s leadership. Stevens claimed that the organization is remaining steadfast, however, in its new coach.
“I thought he did a really good job with this group,” Stevens said at Thursday’s press conference. “Everybody is going to overreact to the best players and coaches after every game. That’s always the way it is. We know that going in. So, we have to be able to judge things on the whole.”
In his debut season as head coach, Mazzulla guided the Celtics to a 57-25 regular season, the second-best record in the league. The team won two hard-fought series against the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers and nearly completed a reverse sweep of the Heat after falling behind 3-0 to begin the series.
A week of sports news in your in-box.
We find the sports news you need to know, so you don't have to.
This is powerful from Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla
“You always hear people give glory to God and say 'thank you' when they're holding a trophy, but you never really hear it in times like this.”pic.twitter.com/VO0JkJplQL
— Jason Romano (@JasonRomano) May 26, 2023
“Was he perfect? Would he like to have some moments back? Every coach would,” Stevens said. “Even the coaches nobody talks about would. We all that have coached know how hard that is. At the same time, our players, our staff, everybody around him believes in him and we’ve got to do our best to support him going forward.”
Based on Mazzulla’s trajectory over the course of his coaching career, it’s unlikely that the organization would have given up on him after one season. The former West Virginia player went undrafted in 2011 but immediately began a career in coaching and went on to become an assistant coach of Boston’s G League affiliate from 2016 to 2017.
Mazzulla later became an assistant on the main team from 2019 to 2022, making him an optimal last-second replacement for former head coach Ime Udoka when he was suspended and later released for violating team policies. Originally the interim head coach, he was eventually promoted to permanent head coach in February.
Though Mazzulla inherited a team that was already a title contender and fell short of that goal, Stevens said that the team still has plenty to build on going forward.
“Listen, we didn’t have a great playoff run in whole. And we certainly were outplayed for the better part of that Miami series, even though it went seven games,” Stevens said. “So we have a lot of work to do. But it doesn’t mean that we need to mistake activity for achievement. I think we have to understand what’s really good and how hard it is to have a foundation, and then figure out how to build off of it.”
Leave a comment
Get the most-revealing celebrity conversations with the uInterview podcast!