Joe Mazzulla Encourages Celtics To ‘Normalize’ NBA Finals Narratives

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Since the Boston Celtics haven’t played in over a week, the national media has been granted plenty of time to barf loads of talking points — warranted and unwarranted — until Game 1 of the NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks.

Whether it’d be attacking Jayson Tatum’s enthusiasm levels for Jaylen Brown’s Eastern Conference finals MVP win or the validity of the team’s path to the Finals, the fodder has been never-ending. It comes with the territory, especially for a Celtics squad that won a league-best 64 games in the regular season, and head coach Joe Mazzulla is understanding of that heading into Boston’s second bid at Banner 18 in the last four years.

“Every player handles it differently,” Mazzulla told reporters at Tuesday’s Finals practice, per CLNS Media. “I think our guys have been through a lot. We have a relatively young team, but a tested team of what the NBA brings you over the course of a season and a career. So everybody handles that differently. So you just trust what the guys have gone through and the process that they have. Sometimes it’s good for people to hear it, sometimes it’s good for people to ignore it, sometimes it’s good for people to understand it. It just depends. Everybody is different.”

Mazzulla added: “You have to normalize some of this stuff because it’s always going to be there, regardless of the situation you’re in.”

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Just like the beneficial injuries that hampered each of Boston’s first three postseason opponents, the outside noise is beyond its control. It started in the offseason once team president of basketball operations Brad Stevens went full throttle by landing Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, and hasn’t detached the Celtics ever since — nor will it throughout the Finals.

It’s become the norm for loudmouth media heads to microscope anything the Celtics have done thus far. In putting aside a 12-2 postseason record, including a most recent sweep of the Indiana Pacers in the conference finals, the primary focus hasn’t been what Boston’s successfully done, but the fact that it hasn’t been in the way that outsiders deem good enough.

In recent years, the primary issue working against the Celtics was their inability to play up to their hype. This was mainly the case during Boston’s postseason exit last season when crumbling to a less-talented Miami Heat team led by Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and a pack of backups.

But now, without Porzingis for two playoff rounds and some change, Boston hasn’t missed a beat while fending off all distractions.

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“Throughout the season we already went through some things,” Porzingis explained, per CLNS Media. “Some guys were out so the lineups were changing and we’ve kind of prepared ourselves for this. But seeing the level that Al (Horford) was playing at and other guys that stepped in and had minutes, it just shows that the work that they’ve been doing throughout the season has been paying off; and it’s paying off in the most important moments. It’s good to see everybody locked in as a group and playing at this level of basketball.”

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