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Celtics Strong Defense Against Phoneix Suns, Head Coach Joe Mazzulla Reacts to the Performance

Celtics Coach Joe Mazzulla (Via Celtics/Twitter)

Joe Mazzulla showcased his defensive prowess in an unexpected moment during the Boston Celtics’ game against the Phoenix Suns, and his team certainly appreciated the effort.

The Celtics demonstrated solid defensive play throughout the game, and that included their head coach, Joe Mazzulla, getting in on the action.

Late in the fourth quarter, after a timeout called by the Suns following Jaylen Brown’s impressive steal and dunk, Phoenix forward Royce O’Neale attempted a dead-ball 3-pointer near the Celtics’ bench. However, Mazzulla sprang into action and jumped towards O’Neale, contesting his shot, which ultimately missed.

Boston Celtics Team (Via Celtics/Twitter)

So, why did a coach attempt to block a player’s shot after the whistle? Mazzulla explained, “I saw a guy going in to try to get a shot, and he hadn’t made one, and I didn’t want him to feel good about himself going to the bench. … That’s a bench rule.

Guys don’t shoot shots in front of our bench to go back to their bench to feel good about themselves. If I’m gonna ask the guys to contest, the staff’s gotta do the same.”

While this may seem like a peculiar request, Mazzulla takes it seriously. He believes it’s a psychological tactic worth employing, ensuring opponents don’t gain any momentum or confidence even in seemingly inconsequential moments.

This isn’t the first time a Celtics coach has engaged in such behavior; earlier in the season, assistant coach Sam Cassell contested a post-timeout 3-point attempt by an opponent.

Phoneix Suns Team (Via Suns/Twitter)

Mazzulla’s players appreciate their coaching staff’s intensity. Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown reacted positively to Mazzulla’s defensive effort, with Tatum stating, “That’s who Joe is … Gotta love Joe for Joe.”

Brown echoed this sentiment, expressing regret at missing the moment but appreciating Mazzulla’s commitment to the team’s ethos.

O’Neale, the Suns player on the receiving end of Mazzulla’s defense, was taken aback by the move, admitting he “didn’t know what (Mazzulla) was doing.”

However, this reaction indicates the tactic’s effectiveness: opponents know they’re in for a challenge against the Celtics, even beyond the game’s formal action.

Former Celtics guard Eddie House summed it up well, noting the unusual nature of a coach contesting a shot but also acknowledging the impact it has on players. In the end, it’s all part of the competitive spirit that defines Celtics basketball.

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