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There’s no question that Joe Mazzulla wants to win the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament.
He did have players hack Chicago’s Andre Drummond in order to preserve the point differential needed to advance to the next round, after all.
But, when asked how the tournament could help the Celtics prepare for the deep postseason run they hope to have, Mazzulla compared his enthusiasm level to a soggy, dreary day at the Auerbach Center.
While there may be interest in the tournament from media and fans, nothing can accurately simulate what the playoffs are actually like, Mazzulla said.
“So, it gives you an opportunity to win at something,” Mazzulla said. “But, you know like when you live in Boston and it’s Tuesday afternoon and it’s raining and nobody wants to go to work but we still have to go to practice? I want to win that day as much as I want to win the In-Season Tournament.”
The Celtics’ run in the tournament will continue after a 124-97 win over the Bulls at TD Garden Tuesday night. They will face the Pacers in the quarterfinals next week in Indiana.
Mazzulla spoke about the importance of habit-building. The game brought out some tactics that players called weird, such as keeping starters in to intentionally run up the score and intentionally fouling bad free-throw shooters.
However, the concepts of locking in, maintaining leads, and giving consistent effort are still the same.
“The process was winning, finding small ways to try to win,” Mazzulla said. “Those things are cool. Not that I don’t think the In-Season Tournament is cool or fun, but there’s a process. If you go back to the Orlando game, like, we’re going to rebound just because it’s an In-Season Tournament game?
“I don’t want our guys to have that kind of mindset. We have to rebound every single day. So, if we truly care about the process towards winning, we’ll do it in a preseason game and then in an in-season tournament game, and a regular season game. That’s the mindset you have to create.”
Mazzulla said going through an elimination tournament during the regular season can affect how emotional habits are formed.
“It builds opportunity,” Mazzulla said. “Once I knew the point differential, I told the team that this is a good opportunity for us to work on playing with a lead and building on it because we want to try to win as much as we can.
“So, let’s for the next four minutes try to go on a run here, whereas if it were a regular game you would already have taken them out and they wouldn’t play. So, it’s a small opportunity for us to build some mental resilience, and it’s like can we find a pocket of the game to just play hard because it’s the like the cool thing to do when you’re up 30.”
Source: Boston Globe
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