Boston Celtics

Mazzulla: ‘I don't care' about relationships with opposing coaches

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla is here to win games, not to make friends.

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Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla certainly has a unique way of doing things, which can cause some miscommunication at times.

This was seen in Boston's last In-Season Tournament game, where the Celtics blew out the Chicago Bulls 124-97. Needing to overcome a point differential to make it out of the group stage of the tournament, the Celtics never took their foot off the gas, intentionally fouling Bulls big man Andre Drummond late into the game.

With Chicago's coach Billy Donovan visibly annoyed, Mazzulla met the Bulls coach at half court to have a rather awkward conversation, in which Mazzulla had to explain why they were hacking Drummond and running up the score.

Prior to Friday night's matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe asked Mazzulla if he was concerned with his relationships with coaches around the league.

"How can I say this nicely -- I don't care," Mazzulla responded.

Mazzulla's interaction with Donovan wasn't the first time he has had an awkward interaction with another head coach. In the Celtics' 117-94 win over the Toronto Raptors, Mazzulla challenged on an out-of-bounds call up 27 points with just under four minutes remaining in the game. Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic didn't react well, causing things to get chippy on the sideline.

In defense of the challenge call in Toronto, Mazzulla said, "It was a clear opportunity for me to empower the players, let them know that I'm coaching you, and those minutes to me are just as important as the start of the game. That's what I told my players. I'll always put them first."

Last year, the Celtics were blowing leads late in games at an alarming rate. Mazzulla has learned from his previous mistakes and is choosing to err on the side of caution by never allowing his team to take their foot off the gas.

"I also have respect for people," he said on Friday. "I learn from every coach, and I think there are a lot of great coaches in the league, I study what other teams do, but as far as having an off-court relationship with a coach, I don't [care]. That's the last on the list."

Mazzulla continues to make it clear that the most important things to him this year are his players and winning the NBA Finals this summer.

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