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Joe Mazzulla to Return As Celtics Coach Despite Worrying Playoff Run
- Joe Mazzulla will remain as Boston Celtics coach next season
- President of basketball operations Brad Stevens said the 34-year-old had a great first year as a coach with the Celtics
- Mazzulla led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference finals but was criticized during the playoffs
Joe Mazzulla will return as Boston Celtics head coach, according to President of basketball operations Brad Stevens.
Mazzulla was heavily criticized by Celtics fans during the 2023 NBA playoff, which the Celtics exited after losing the Eastern Conference finals to the Miami Heat.
Mazzulla, 34, was appointed interim head coach when the Celtics suspended Ime Udoka for the season in September for multiple violations of team rules. He took over on a full-time basis in February and led the Celtics to a 57-25 record and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics had a strange playoff run in 2023. Their home record was baffling, and some questioned his ability after the team went 0-3 down against the Heat in the conference finals, per the Athletic. They still roared back to even the series but fell short in Game 7 at home.
Why is Mazzulla returning?
According to Stevens, Mazzulla did a commendable job in his first season and understands why fans would overreact.
“I thought he did a really good job with this group,” Stevens said. “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,” via Boston.com.
Stevens, who coached the Celtics for eight seasons, lauded Mazzulla's leadership qualities.
“He’s a terrific leader,” Stevens continued. “He’ll only get better at anything that he can learn from this year because he’s constantly trying to learn."
With core stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum entering their peak, Mazzulla will be under pressure to win the title next season.
Tatum explains Game 7 injury
Sports Brief earlier reported on Tatum concluding that an ankle injury sustained in Game 7 against Miami affected his game.
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The 25-year-old rolled his ankle after only 30 seconds but stayed in the game. However, it was clear he was playing through an injury. He played 42 minutes and finished with 14 points on 5-for-13. The Celtics only scored 84 points in Game 7.
"I was kind of a shell of myself. It was tough to move."