Boston Celtics

Mazzulla thrilled with the ‘maturity and mental toughness' of Celtics

"The plan is to do what we have to do to win the game."

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The Boston Celtics were all smiles Wednesday night after dominating the Indiana Pacers, 155-104. With the starters taken out after the third quarter, Boston's bench played with the same intensity and left coach Joe Mazzulla very pleased.

Along with a team-first mentality, Mazzulla has preached that the Celtics won't take anything for granted this season. After blowing leads at an alarming rate last season, the Celtics' onslaught Wednesday night proves Mazzulla was not messing around. Much like their last game against the Washington Wizards, the Celtics jumped out to an early first-quarter lead, allowing Boston to play freely.

After a slow second quarter, only outscoring the Pacers by four, the Celtics came out of the halftime break and outscored the Pacers 34-17, which is something the Celtics struggled with last season. Mazzulla was encouraged by the improvement.

"That's the epitome of mental toughness," Mazzulla said on Boston's third-quarter performance. "Tonight, we showed maturity and mental toughness. We came out and went on a run and made them call a timeout, and it doesn't always go that way. The other team can come out and go on an 8-0 run, and then the dynamic of the game changes, and our guys are aware of that. Hats off to them for competing at a high, high level."

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Once a team full of young, budding stars, the Celtics are now a team full of experienced veterans who know what it takes to win at the highest level, and Mazzulla knows that.

"That's just who they are," Mazzulla added on Boston's ability to keep applying pressure. "They've been around for a long time, they communicate with each other, that's just the standard they set for themselves. That's a testament of the toughness you need to handle things in the NBA."

Jayson Tatum (30 points), Derrick White (18), Jaylen Brown (16), Jrue Holiday (15), and Kristaps Porzingis (13) all found ways to score at an efficient rate. Through four games, the Celtics continue to show that individual stats don't matter as long as they get the win, which Brown confirmed after his 36-point night vs. Washington. Mazzulla confirmed it again, crediting his players on the ability to move the ball.

"It's about managing each other and having that conversation," Mazzulla said. "Kristaps [Porzingis] killed it in his first few games, and tonight he took seven shots, but he still has the humility to play defense, set screens, and to still pass. It's like, 'Tonight may not be my night, but we still have to play the right way,' and then the other teammates having that understanding of, 'Hey, let's get KP [Porzingis] involved, let's get Jrue [Holiday] or Derrick [White] involved.' It's the chemistry they built amongst each other, the communication and the trust they built, that's what they work at."

Through Boston's first four games, all starters are averaging double digits in points, with Holiday's 12.4 being the lowest. The bench play had been lackluster through three games, but the reserves shined against the Pacers, headlined by scoring from Sam Hauser (17) and Payton Pritchard (15). Even after a hefty lead going into the fourth quarter, the Celtic bench played as if it was a tight game, which Mazzulla applauded.

"The plan is to do what we have to do to win the game," Mazzulla responded when asked if the plan was to continue to allow starters to rest in the fourth quarter.

Mazzulla was then asked if he was able to relax at the end of games like that.

"No," he responded. "It's because there are five guys that are in the game that have worked their a-- off to get to that spot, and the best thing I can do for them is coach them, because that's what they want, and they are looking for that. I try to coach it as if it was the first quarter out of respect for the guys that are on the floor, because of the work that they put in."

The bench combined for 46 points on 56.4 percent shooting from the field and 60 percent from deep, most of which came in the fourth quarter after the win was fairly secured.

The Celtics will hit the road on Saturday night as they look to improve to 5-0 against the 2-2 Brooklyn Nets at 8 p.m. ET, with NBC Sports Boston's coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live.

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