Following a failed comeback attempt against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla seemingly took exception when asked about the number of 3-point shots the team attempted.
After rallying from a 14-point deficit in the final two minutes, the Celtics fell just short, 106-103, following a missed game-tying 3-point shot from Kristaps Porzingis. Although that will be the shot fans remember, the Celtics could not find their range all game long, shooting a subpar 31.9 percent from beyond the arc, which was still an improvement from the 28.2 percent shot in their loss vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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With the C's only converting on 15 of their 47 3-point attempts, The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn asked Mazzulla why the team continued to shoot from deep.
"I just finished reading a great article that you wrote in 2016," Mazzulla said to Washburn. "It was about how the Celtics shot too many threes, they shot 42, and that was seven years ago, we only shot five more tonight. And they [the 2016 Celtics] lost 121-114 and you blamed the offense. But not the defense. What's your fascination with too much threes? For the last seven years."
"It hasn't been seven years," Washburn added, to which Mazzulla quickly responded.
"2016. It's 2023. I just read it, it was a great article," Mazzulla continued. "It was like, 'Are the Celtics settling for too many threes?' You said that seven years ago. You were ahead of the curve."
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Mazzulla seemed to then laugh it off, pointing to the Celtics' performance in the second quarter as the reason for the loss.
"We gave up the offensive rebounds in the transition," Mazzulla said. "We had some sloppy play. And you go back and watch close games, they are never lost in the fourth quarter. Sometimes they are, but you look at that run in the second quarter where we gave up, like, three or four straight offensive rebounds, we didn't get matched [on defense], and gave up a three. I think it was lost there."
Only being outscored by five and three points in the first and third quarters, respectively, the 76ers absolutely dominated in the second, going on a 39-27 run. To Mazzulla's point, the Celtics even outscored Philadelphia in the fourth quarter by seven. The game was lost in the second quarter, and the Celtics just ran out of time in their battle to get the lead back.
"It's perspective," Mazzulla added, once again trying to remain positive. "I thought this was actually one of our better-played games, from an execution and a mindset standpoint. It was a great article though, Gary [Washburn]."
Logging 28 assists as a team, the Celtics continued to move the ball around freely. Mazzulla has preached a team-first approach all season long, and the players continue to show they don't necessarily care who scores, as long as someone does. There were multiple possessions in Wednesday night's loss where every Celtic on the floor touched the ball before a shot went up, trying to find the open man for the best possible shot.
After losing two straight, the Celtics will look to bounce back against the Brooklyn Nets, a team they beat earlier in the season, on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET.