Brad Stevens on Joe Mazzulla, Celtics’ success and Jaylen Brown’s All-NBA case


BOSTON — Brad Stevens referred to as a press convention on Sunday earlier than the Celtics’ season finale in opposition to the Hawks in an uncommon transfer, saying it’s as a result of he is not going to converse as soon as the playoffs start. He needs the deal with the gamers, staff and Joe Mazzulla.

With Boston’s seed, attainable opponents and profession seasons set in stone for the staff’s stars, Stevens praised the development Mazzulla achieved in his first 12 months as head coach. Stevens additionally stumped for Jaylen Brown — who the Celtics anticipate again at apply later this week after reducing his proper hand on glass — and Jayson Tatum to make the All-NBA staff.

“We discuss day-after-day however I need to return to this: Joe’s a power,” Stevens mentioned. “He’s performed a very good job and I perceive, as a result of he’s new, that the simplest factor to do is nitpick him, however he’s performed a very good job. If he wants me, I’m right here, however I belief him and I belief our workers. They’ve all performed an excellent job and I believe our gamers would all second that.”

Stevens — who backed Mazzulla as your best option for the interim job after Ime Udoka’s suspension in September — knew he would carry out effectively regardless of tough circumstances. The Celtics’ president credited that to Mazzulla’s capacity to react constantly to wins and losses. His controversial method to deal with course of, even after powerful losses, performed effectively.

Mazzulla defended he and the staff’s efficiency on Friday, denying the notion they’d ups-and-downs regardless of slip-ups in opposition to groups like Houston, Orlando and Washington within the second half of the season. The Celtics nonetheless secured the No. 2 seed, and Mazzulla emphasised their No. 1 play on offense and protection over the staff’s ultimate 16 video games.

Stevens admitted 4 losses in seven video games after the all-star break to New York, Cleveland an a 28-point collapse in opposition to Brooklyn offering a check the Celtics handed. He additionally credited the character of the locker room, particularly veterans who took smaller roles, to get previous mid-season complacency.

He noticed Mazzulla evolve by that halfway level of the season, discovering a larger steadiness between calling timeouts and letting the staff play. It may possibly take years to really feel out what your staff wants, he mentioned, and Stevens noticed him determine it out, stopping the sport to make substitutions, and never doing so to maintain different gamers ready on the opposing bench.

“(Mazzulla) comes again and he works the subsequent day,” Stevens mentioned. “He needs to enhance. He calls for that of the staff. I believe he does an excellent job of selecting what the emphasis must be within the massive image, and in addition in these small moments, the snippets of occasions when one thing is waning a little bit, he does an excellent job of figuring that out and making {that a} precedence to enhance. Clearly, each staff has its ups-and-downs, however if you happen to watched us within the final two weeks, and the overwhelming majority of our play, I believe we’ve gotten higher and that’s encouraging, as a result of we struggled out of the gate after the all-star break and we may’ve limped (into the playoffs).”

That success and consistency constructed throughout 26 beginning lineups, whereas Marcus Good, Brown, Tatum and Malcolm Brogdon managed their minutes to shut the season. Al Horford and Robert Williams III sat back-to-backs all 12 months, and Stevens thought the Celtics struck the correct steadiness between discovering big-minute video games to arrange gamers for postseason depth whereas getting the roster to the end line wholesome. Boston closed the season successful 5-of-6, and practically made it six straight with their undermanned effort in opposition to Philadelphia.

Williams III’s progress since getting back from September knee surgical procedure impressed each Mazzulla and Stevens. Whereas Mazzulla moved Williams III again to the bench after a current hamstring surgical procedure, he requested the large man for extra by way of attacking cross-matches, taking a dribble and seeking to rating across the rim on Friday. The Celtics will doubtless ask him to benefit from 5-6 minute bursts every quarter within the postseason, however arguably his finest recreation of the season on Friday in opposition to Toronto offered hope he can provide one thing extra.

“Lacking a bunch of video games in the beginning of the 12 months was not been superb,” Stevens mentioned. “It did drive us to morph right into a staff that may do different issues and provides us a special means of taking part in, so there was some benefit to that, after which he’s come again and performed effectively, and I’m actually inspired that he performed the minutes he performed over the past couple of video games.”

Stevens additionally revealed Tatum battled nagging accidents that value him his load administration video games, amongst them his sore left wrist and hip contusion, together with an sickness that stored him out of the staff’s first recreation at Milwaukee. Tatum nonetheless grew to become the primary 30 level per recreation scorer in Celtics historical past.

Stevens completed making his case for Brown’s postseason award, who earns the flexibility to signal a brilliant max extension this offseason if he makes an All-NBA staff. He thought Brown solely improved from a robust place to begin to start the 12 months.

“He has actually performed his finest basketball within the final couple of months and he was an apparent all-star proper out of the gate,” he mentioned. “I believe he’s doing a terrific job of, clearly scoring the ball and scoring once we want it, however we ask him to do lots defensively, and we ask him, together with Jayson, to learn a variety of fairly intense coverages with further our bodies flying at him, with further our bodies shifted over to him. We’re distinctive, as a result of we have now these two guys, wonderful, younger gamers, they usually actually intensify our function gamers, after which we have now a gaggle of function gamers who actually intensify them. They need to be on that staff.”



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