Celtics’ Joe Mazzulla Gives Insight Into Last NBA Finals Speech

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The Boston Celtics entered halftime of Game 5 pretty much having the Larry O’Brien Trophy already in hand.

The C’s were up 21, holding all the momentum in the world after Payton Pritchard nailed an “unreal” halfcourt heave as time expired, and looked primed for another NBA Finals victory. It would take just one more half — good or bad — and Boston would finally capture Banner 18.

How did Joe Mazzulla approach trying to get his team to stay in the moment?

Just as you’d expect.

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“I just challenged them,” Mazzulla said on an episode of ESPN’s “The Lowe Post” podcast Thursday. “‘If you were to tell yourself that you were up 20 points in a clinching game in the NBA Finals, how would you respond? How would you react to that?’ The guys played great and were able to keep their foot on the gas.”

Mazzulla also peeled back the curtain a bit on how the Celtics approach halftime, revealing he allows the players to police themselves before sharing some overarching talking points before the second half.

“They have like four to five minutes by themselves, so I’m sure they did (speak on the first half),” Mazzulla said. “I try to give them that space to try and communicate, so I would imagine those guys were communicating together, for sure. I’m in there for like a minute and a half and then I’m right back out.”

Mazzulla has been criticized for his approach to coaching, with many believing he’s too reliant on numbers and fails to adjust on the fly. It’s hard to argue that he didn’t hit all the right buttons throughout Boston’s run through the NBA Finals, though.

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He has the hardware to prove it.

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