Boston’s Al Horford praises Joe Mazzulla’s growth as a coach

Joe Mazzulla is in his second year as the Boston Celtics head coach. He was thrust into the position on an interim basis following the franchise’s decision to suspend Ime Udoka for breach of organizational policy before the 2022-23 season started. Mazzulla’s first season was a rollercoaster. Ultimately, it should be deemed a success, as he led the franchise to a game seven in the Eastern Conference finals.

However, Mazzulla appears to have learned from his experiences last season and is carrying a newfound confidence during press conferences and when patrolling the sidelines. Mazzulla is more comfortable leading his team and is starting to show a willingness to make tough decisions.

During a recent interview with Matthew John of Heavy on Sports, veteran big man Al Horford discussed Mazzulla’s evolution. 

“I’ve just seen him as a coach as being more assertive and also him being able to put an imprint of himself on the team and how he wants things to be run,” Horford said. “Last year, he was put in a tough position to come in and lead us. We started well last year, and I feel like we were very driven. But I just think that this year, we’re more comfortable with him.”

During the offseason, Mazzulla rebuilt his coaching staff, adding Sam Cassell, Charles Lee, and Phil Pressey to his staff. Being able to select his own team, and enter training camp with a thoroughly devised gameplan has likely played a part in Mazzulla’s overall growth to begin the season.

However, his experience in handling the media, in dealing with the ups and downs of the NBA, and in disseminating his thoughts have all likely played a part, too.

The Celtics have huge expectations on their shoulders this season; Mazzulla had to evolve. Otherwise, the team’s chances of success would have taken a significant hit.

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire