Bulls coach gets heated at Celtics over disrespectful move
Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan was not happy with how far the Boston Celtics were willing to go to boost their chances in the NBA In-Season Tournament.
The Celtics and Bulls faced off Tuesday at TD Garden in Boston, Mass. for their fourth and final in-season tournament matchup.
The Celtics were up 111-79 after Al Horford sank a corner three-pointer with just over 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
But the Celtics needed more than just a win to guarantee that they would advance in the in-season tournament. They also had to have a higher point differential than both the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets, who were also playing simultaneously as the Celtics-Bulls game went on.
Instead of letting the lopsided contest run its course, Boston decided to intentionally foul Bulls center Andre Drummond to force him to shoot free throws. The 2-time All-Star is a career 47.7% shooter from the charity stripe.
Donovan was not happy about the Celtics’ decision to foul Drummond. The Bulls coach confronted Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla as Drummond headed to the free throw line.
Celtics were intentionally fouling Andre Drummond while up 32 POINTS with 7:02 in the 4Q
Joe Mazzulla had to explain to Billy Donovan they needed to win by 23 to have a chance to advance 😂 pic.twitter.com/4rEoWvHfus
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 29, 2023
Donovan was asked about his confrontation with Mazzulla during his postgame press conference. While the Bulls coach understood the implications the score had on the standings, Donovan believed that the tactic put Drummond in an uncomfortable situation.
“I just thought it was putting Drummond in a tough spot in a 30-point game. I didn’t like that. … I just felt bad for Andre,” said Donovan.
Billy Donovan did not like the Celtics decision to purposefully foul Andre Drummond in the fourth quarter.
Ceded that teams have to chase point differential, but felt that crossed the line.
“I just felt bad for Andre in that situation.” pic.twitter.com/ZmGuwX6Y6r
— Julia Poe (@byjuliapoe) November 29, 2023
Donovan also added that the point differential aspect may potentially be putting players at risk in an all-but-decided game. He pointed to the fact that the Celtics still had Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown with a 30-point lead just to run up the score.
The Celtics ended up winning 124-97 to clinch East Group C of the In-Season Tournament. Their point differential was 5 points above the Magic and 7 points above the Nets.
NBA stars have been vocal about their concern about the point differential wrinkle in the in-season tournament — including Tatum himself.