Joe Mazzulla took over the Celtics on September 22, 2022 after the Ime Udoka scandal rocked the NBA world. Udoka was canned and his promising assistant Mazzulla was given the gig. The timing was great for Mazzulla who likely didn't change much in training camp with the Celtics from his old predecessor. The early results were very promising as he was named Coach of the Month in the Eastern Conference after an 18-4 start to the season for Boston. So the guy clearly failed up in terms of walking into a ready made team that is looking to make a second straight trip to the NBA Finals. But after Saturday night's miraculous finish, take a look at what makes Mazzulla so lucky since taking over the gig.
- Gets job because his boss has an affair or some weird sexual case and is fired
- Coach of the Month (Oct + Nov). Team was coming off an NBA Finals appearance. They are loaded.
- Named All Star HC.
- Got a fully guaranteed contract extension in mid-February.
- Beat Hawks in 6 games (It should've been sweep or at least five games).
- Came back from 3-2 deficit vs. 76ers to win series. Although nobody remembers how Boston just laid an egg on their home floor in Game 5 to put them in a position to need to win those games.
- Fell into 0-3 hole vs. Miami including a disgraceful Game 3 performance showing that his team quit on his watch. He'll get credit for bringing them back, but reports have surfaced that it was his Assistant Coach Matt Reynolds who gave the pump up speech after Game 3. Reynolds has been with the team for several years and started as a video coordinator. The team has his respect, so much so that he may be the guy to save their season. But where was Mazzulla in all of this?
- Nearly costs his team a trip to the Finals with an unreal challenge on a Jimmy Butler shot. The challenge gets the call changed in Miami's favor not only to uphold the call, but to give Butler three free throws instead of two. Butler stepped up and sank all three free throws giving the Heat a 2 point lead with 3.0 seconds left. Now the challenge actually did add about half a second left on the game clock which proved to be vital with Derrick White's last second tip in, but that was more luck than skill.
As someone who interviewed people for jobs in my previous life, you always want candidates to say something they did specifically. Using terminology like "we" or "us" can be a ding against you. Interviewers are looking for specific things they can tie back to you doing something as an individual. When looking at Mazzulla's list of accomplishments, is there anything we can directly say is this way with the Celtics BECAUSE OF what Joe Mazzulla did this season as Boston's head coach?
I honestly can't see a single thing that is just a Joe Mazzulla initiative. Which is why it's so puzzling to see him continue to beat the system night after night. Why does everybody think this dude is a great coach? If that Marcus Smart missed shot goes just a few inches higher, we may be looking at a coaching decision that directly took his team out of the finals. I do not for the life of me see what others see in him, but he Mazzulla just continues to win.