Celtics' Joe Mazzulla takes victory lap after Game 2 adjustments vs. Sixers

Mazzulla takes victory lap after Celtics' Game 2 adjustments pay off originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

In case you haven't heard, Joe Mazzulla is a very competitive person. Which means he has a tendency to keep receipts.

Mazzulla took criticism for some of his coaching decisions in the Boston Celtics' Game 1 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night. He appeared to push the right buttons Wednesday, however, as the Celtics rolled to a 34-point blowout victory in Game 2 at TD Garden to even the second-round series at 1-1.

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Which buttons did Mazzulla push? The Celtics head coach apparently felt that question wasn't asked after Game 2 and ended his postgame press conference with a playful jab at the media.

"Nobody wants to ask about all the adjustments we made from Game 1 to Game 2?" Mazzulla asked rhetorically.

Mazzulla addressed some of Boston's adjustments indirectly, discussing his team's increased physicality on defense and increased 3-point volume on offense. But in a virtual press conference the following day, reporters got a chance to ask Mazzulla directly about what changed from Game 1 to Game 2.


"I thought the first adjustment we made was our mindset and our physicality," Mazzulla said Thursday . "I thought we just brought a different level of both of those things from the beginning of the game, from the beginning, and we sustained it throughout the entire game, which is something that we definitely talk about.

"I thought we did a better job in our shift activity, presenting help and getting out to shooters, doing both, not giving up a ton of catch-and-shoot 3s, and I just thought we managed the game really well. Our half-court defense led to our offense, and then our offensive decision-making led to our ability to get back on defense."

So, there you have it. The Celtics' adjustments have been noted.

To Mazzulla's credit, Boston has done an excellent job correcting mistakes from a game-to-game basis. After allowing James Harden to go off for 45 points in Game 1, Mazzulla turned to Jaylen Brown, who stayed glued to the Sixers star all night and helped limit Harden to just 12 points on 2 of 14 shooting. After attempting just 26 3-pointers in Game 1, the Celtics made a concerted effort to space the floor and racked up 51 3-point attempts, making 20.


The challenge for Mazzulla and Co. will be sustaining that success Friday night in Game 3. The Celtics have struggled as front-runners this postseason -- as evidenced by a Game 5 loss to the Dejounte Murray-less Atlanta Hawks in Round 1 and Monday's Game 1 loss to Philly without Joel Embiid -- and will need to discover some consistency if they want to pull ahead in this series.

We know Mazzulla will have plenty of motivation to prove his doubters wrong.