Boston Celtics

Perkins praises Mazzulla's ‘excellent' coaching performance this year

Kendrick Perkins has been critical of the Celtics head coach at times.

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Despite being one of Joe Mazzulla's harshest critics, Kendrick Perkins respects the job the Boston Celtics head coach has done in his second season leading the charge.

Perkins most recently ripped Mazzulla after the Celtics' 102-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 19, stating that "if you take his brain out and you put it in a bird, the bird is going to start flying backward." Just over a week later, Mazzulla responded with a not-so-subtle message after being asked for a medical analysis of Boston's injury report.

“I’m a bird brain, you know I can’t do that," he said.

While Mazzulla has had his share of learning experiences through one-and-a-half seasons as head coach, he's already enjoyed plenty of success. On Wednesday, he became the fifth-quickest NBA coach to reach the 100-win milestone. He led the Celtics to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year and a league-best 43-12 record so far this season.

In an exclusive 1-on-1 with our Chris Forsberg, Perkins gave Mazzulla the praise he has earned.

"You know, the thing is, I actually love Joe Mazzulla," Perkins told Forsberg. "I love that he claps back at me. That's a great thing. But I think he has done an excellent job as far as just coaching, right? Putting these guys in a position to be successful."

"I think defensively he's got them clicking on all cylinders. Offensively, they're spreading the ball around. ... You can see certain nights, Derrick White, it could be his night to go off. It could be (Jayson) Tatum's night to go off, Jaylen Brown's night. You could tell that the message in that locker room is about winning a championship, and when you see that on the floor, that's a reflection of the coach."

Mazzulla's C's rank first in offensive rating (120.8), third in defensive rating (110.5), and first in net rating (10.3) at the All-Star break. They're on pace to win 64 games, which would be their highest total since their 2007-08 championship campaign.

Perkins' praise for Mazzulla wasn't his only positive Celtics take. He also said he'd vote Jayson Tatum for NBA MVP if the season ended today, and picked the C's to win the Eastern Conference.

You can watch Forsberg's full exclusive interview with Perkins below, or on YouTube:

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