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#pounditFriday, February 23, 2024

Joe Mazzulla had classy gesture after controversial strategy against Bulls

Joe Mazzulla on the sideline

Dec 16, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla watches from the sideline as they take on the Orlando Magic at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla employed a pretty disrespectful strategy Tuesday against the Chicago Bulls, but he tried very hard to make it right after the game.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan was angry with Mazzulla and the Celtics after Boston intentionally fouled center Andre Drummond, a notoriously poor free-throw shooter, despite holding a 32-point lead. The Celtics needed to have a higher point differential than both the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets in order to advance in the In-Season Tournament, which is why the Celtics took no chances even with a massive lead.

The controversial nature of the strategy was not lost on Mazzulla. According to KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, Mazzulla personally apologized to Donovan after the game and sought to do the same to Drummond.

Mazzulla’s apology may or may not smooth over the hard feelings, but he was doing his job and trying to maximize his team’s chances of success. The point differential aspect of the In-Season Tournament has divided opinion, but it exists and teams have to be aware of it.

The Celtics did wind up advancing to the knockout portion of the tournament, so Mazzulla’s strategy bore fruit, whether necessary or not.

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