Boston Celtics

Celtics fans will love Mazzulla's first thought after winning title

Winning a championship clearly hasn't changed the Boston's intense head coach.

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Joe Mazzulla just became the youngest NBA champion head coach since Bill Russell in 1969. In just his second full season as head coach -- and first without the interim title after replacing the suspended Ime Udoka just before the 2022-23 season -- Mazzulla helped the Boston Celtics go 80-21 over the 2023-24 regular season and playoffs and dispatch the Dallas Mavericks in five games of the 2024 NBA Finals to win their record 18th championship.

Time to kick back and celebrate, right?

If you know Mazzulla, you know where this is going: The 35-year-old coach joined ESPN's The Lowe Post podcast and was asked by host Zach Lowe how he planned to approach next season considering there hasn't been a repeat NBA champion since the Golden State Warriors in 2017-18.

An excited Mazzulla interrupted Lowe mid-sentence to say that's "all (he's) been thinking about since the horn went off" in Monday's Game 5.

"What type of temperature are we going to set, and how are we going to find that balance of maximizing the opportunity that we have, but not skipping steps?" Mazzulla told Lowe of his post-title thought process. "So like now, I'm studying teams that are in that situation (of trying to repeat as champions)."

Mazzulla said he's been doing research on legendary soccer manager Pep Guardiola, who has led Manchester City to four consecutive Premier League titles and is friends with the Celtics coach after Mazzulla visited Man City over the 2024 NBA All-Star break.

"That's why my relationship with Pep is so valuable is because he's won four Premier League titles in a row, and I know every game matters in the NBA, but every game matters in the Premier League," Mazzulla said. "So, what's the process of creating an environment (like) that?

"There are no guarantees, and I think you have to maximize the opportunity that you have every year, and the type of character of the players that we have, I think we'll put ourselves in a position to maximize our opportunity because of who they are. But that's what I'm studying right now.

"Last year was about finding a shared mental model; now it's like, 'OK, what's the environment (going to be)? What's our ecosystem going to be under the circumstances of coming off of (a championship), and how are we going to attack this mentally as an organization going forward?"

Long story short: With the confetti still settling from Monday's championship victory, Mazzulla is already diving headfirst into the challenge of repeating.

"That four in a row in the Premier League -- I'm studying the science, the emotion, everything that goes into that," Mazzulla added.

Mazzulla's mindset probably won't surprise fans who got to know the young head coach as a relentless competitor with a maniacal work ethic. Celtics players have pointed to Mazzulla's intensity as a big reason why they were so successful this season, and his comments suggest that intensity won't wane heading into 2024-25.

Mazzulla's full interview with Lowe is fascinating and worth a listen. You can also check out NBC Sports Boston's three-part documentary series on Mazzulla here.

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla discusses the sacrifices and mindset needed to achieve something great, takes us along for part of his game-day routine: time in the cold tub, and explains what he learned from last year's playoffs. 
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