HomeSportsHow Joe Mazzulla's Unexpected Timeout Boosted The Celtics' Playoff Run

How Joe Mazzulla’s Unexpected Timeout Boosted The Celtics’ Playoff Run

Forsberg: How Majulla’s unexpected timeout boosted the Celtics’ season originally appeared nbc sports boston

MIAMI – Grant Williams couldn’t remember Joe MajullaThird quarter, mid-possession timeout immediately after Boston Celtics win Game 4 over Miami HeatWhich made everyone else incredulous.

In a season in which Mazzulla’s timeout use – or lack thereof – was a constant storyline, the coach calling a timeout to salvage a crumbling possession felt like a seminal moment. And, depending on how the rest of the Eastern Conference finals play out after Boston’s second-half blitz on Wednesday night, it just might be.

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Here’s how it unfolded: The Celtics were down nine early in the third frame when Jimmy Butler missed a pass that insanely turned into a Max Strauss third-chance 3-pointer. The sequence felt like a microcosm of a series in which even Boston’s best defensive efforts were spoiled by Miami’s hot shooting.

but a couple jason tatum The 3-pointers, just 23 seconds apart, breathed new life into the Celtics. When did Boston have a chance to tie jaylen brown Boston threw his dribble into the corner in front of the bench and was promptly intercepted by Butler and Kevin Love.

Brown probably would have survived but Majulla was leaving nothing to chance on this night. He yelled at Scott Foster, the crew chief in front of him, for running out of time. Even his players were temporarily frozen in the moment, wondering why there was a pause.

Majulla grabbed his whiteboard and the Celtics made a game-tying 3 when al horford Made the extra pass to triple to a wide open Derrick White in the corner. Boston’s run eventually snowballed into an 18–0 blowout. Isn’t it suitable for the season of “unfin18head business” and the search for Banner 18?

You could make the case that this kind of timeout shouldn’t feel like a moment. But it did. Majulla, whose priority is letting his players through trouble spots, has repeatedly cut the team, stepping outside his comfort zone after 103 games.

Majulla spent a blistering 48 hours in the spotlight before Game 4. After taking the blame for Boston’s inexcusable lapse in Game 3, the Talking Heads spent two days reflecting on his coaching abilities and Could the Celtics have to fire the 34-year-old? after the season because they could not afford for him to learn on the fly on a team with immediate championship aspirations.

To be clear, Mazzulla deserves his fair share of criticism for some of Boston’s troubles this season. Boil it down and the coach’s job is to put his team in the best possible position to be successful. It was fair to question whether Mazzulla has done that consistently this season, which has also included parts of Boston’s playoff run.

But in a do-or-die situation, Majulla pitched pretty close to a perfect game.

It started after game 3 when Majulla got on the podium and Blamed for Boston’s pathetic effort, His players later suggested that the coach need not have fallen on that sword, but in doing so, Mazzulla lessened the burden on his players and bore the brunt of the outright anger.

Majulla’s only plea after the Game 3 debacle was to stick with his team. On Monday off, Boston players and staff gathered at Miami Gardens for a team round at Topgolf followed by dinner. Brought along, the Boston players had no choice but to address the 3–0 hole they had dug themselves. And by the time the team gathered for shootaround on Tuesday morning, the Celtics were bubbling with an undeniable energy.

marcus smart And jaylen brown went to the 2004 Red Sox Playbook Uttering the line made famous by Kevin Miller, “Don’t let us get you one”, before exiting the local nine in a 3–0 hole against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. how appropriate Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were courtside in Miami,

It wasn’t just one third-quarter run that highlighted Majulla’s sustained efforts in Game 4. The Heat cut Boston’s lead to five in the fourth frame while Tatum rested (perhaps Majulla’s only real misstep on the night). Once again, Majulla used timeouts to stabilize his squad.

Tatum rejoined during that stoppage with 9:41 to play, hitting a 19-foot fadeaway to break through the end zone that kept Boston shaky to start the frame and the Celtics quickly pushed his lead back into double digits.

“It was the little things tonight,” said Smart. “We trusted each other, we constantly believed in each other. Even when we were disappointed, we constantly believed in each other, and that’s what we have to continue to do. No matter what That we have to continue to play the right way, to continue to believe in each other, and to let the chips fall where they may.

Majulla has to walk on a tight rope. By nature, he wants his team to be able to navigate high-pressure moments without his interference. He suggested throughout the season that Boston would be better off tolerating these types of situations when the game mattered most.

And, yet, if this core has one flaw consistently over several seasons, it’s a trend. lose your mind in moments of adversity, Boston dropped Game 1 with a late turnover, then Jimmy Butler dominated the finish line of Game 2.

Even if it flies in the face of his liking at times, Mazzulla has to be the adult in the room, even on a team where one of his starters is three years older than him. Be big Game 4 showed Mazzulla’s willingness to step outside that comfort zone and rely on his ability to draw speed plays, a tremendous upswing, and may have saved Boston’s season.

Even if he never takes credit for it.

“I think whenever you’re in a do-or-die situation it forces you to have awareness and perspective,” Majulla said. We had, and so it is, fragile during this time. So, we just had to remind each other of that, and I think the boys connected pretty well.

What did Majulla tell his team during a mid-possession timeout in the third quarter?

“I told them we can’t start the quarter 50/50 balls and just keep our balance and execution, and I felt there was a lot of awareness, intent, about what we were doing,” Majulla he said . “Spacing was good, execution was good.”

The coach was also good. Mazzulla landed in a tough spot with impossibly high expectations when he was promoted to interim coach. im udoka The 2022-23 season got suspended just days before it was to tip. The Celtics didn’t help their cause by giving them a staff short on NBA experience, especially as Will Hardy left this summer to coach the Jazz and top assistant Damon Stoudamire left in March to take over at Georgia Tech. .

Majulla does not have the facility to make mistakes and learn from them in the early days of work. Every mistake has been magnified by Boston’s goalscoring streak after failing to make the NBA Finals last season.

The Celtics still have a long way to go to create history. No one would remember that third quarter timeout if the Celtics bounced back handily in Game 5 at their home arena.

But if they do what no team in NBA history has done, that quick-trigger timeout by Mazzulla could turn into a career-defining moment. They need to keep their players stable as they move forward.

In the biggest moment of the season, Majulla’s game management was as good as it has been all season. The best a coach can do is put his players in the best position to succeed. Majulla did exactly that, by stepping out of her comfort zone.



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