Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla sends message to Billy Donovan after win v Bulls

Things heated up between Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan and Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla during the latter’s 124-97 victory on November 28.

Mazzulla played to the new regulations and kept his starters in the game to run up the score in an In-Season Tournament duel that mattered far more to the Celtics than it did to the floundering Bulls. At one point, he even sent Bulls center Andre Drummond to the free-throw line.

“Andre is a seasoned professional. “And I told (Mazzulla), ‘What are we doing here,'” Donovan remarked, according to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. “I understand keeping your guys in and wanting to get to (the quarterfinals).” The league has made a huge issue out of it. But that was just the fouling for me. And Joe was fantastic when I spoke with him.”

During his postgame press conference, Mazzulla apologized to Drummond.

“I sincerely apologize to Andre Drummond for doing that,” Mazzulla stated, according to NBC Sports Boston. “But it gave us the best chance [to advance in the tournament] considering the circumstances.”

Mazzulla also apologized to Donovan after the game, according to Johnson. Both Donovan and Mazzulla took questions about the scenario before the game, with Boston needing to win by at least nine points more than the Brooklyn Nets to advance.

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Mazzulla initially downplayed feeling obligated to win by a certain margin despite the circumstances.

“Zero [obligation]. And I do have respect for it. That’s why I want to win,” Mazzulla said before the game via CLNS Media Boston Sports Network. “The most respectful thing you do for the game is play the way you’re supposed to play and try to win.”

The loss was the Bulls’ fifth straight and the fourth by at least 13 points in that span.

“We … didn’t know we were going to be in that position to start the game,” Mazzulla said postgame. “And so when we got to that point, I felt like it was time to execute and put ourselves in position to advance into the tournament. And so going into a game you can’t think those things. You do have to be prepared for them.”

“It’s just a tough situation. He has to coach his team and do what he feels is right,” Donovan said, per Johnson. “Play (the starters) all the way to the end. I got no problem with that. But I just thought it was putting Andre in a tough spot in a 30-point game. I didn’t like that.”

“I just had to explain to him, ‘This is what our people are telling us, this is what we have to do,” Mazzulla said. “Credit to him for understanding that.”

Drummond went 1-for-6 at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter alone.

“Once you’re in that situation, you have to be ready to go to it,” Mazzulla said. “And so I thought our process the last eight minutes of the fourth quarter did the best we could at putting us in position to advance.”

In-Season Tournament Loss Least of Bulls’ Concerns

With their loss to the Toronto Raptors on November 24, the Bulls were eliminated from contention in the In-Season Tournament.

However, their difficulties are stoking trade speculation.

Johnson stated that he believes Donovan and senior vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas are both safe in their positions. Last year, both received contract extensions. Johnson stated that this most likely means that gamers would bear the brunt of the consequences of the ongoing difficulties.


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