With clips of Joe Mazzulla at New England Patriots practice surfacing on the internet a few days ago, Twitter definitely had fun imagining what the Boston Celtics head coach and long-time Pats head coach Bill Belichick could possibly be talking about.
Widely regarded as one of the best football coaches of all time, Belichick has won 6 Super Bowl rings as the head coach of the Patriots. He has been coaching for longer than Mazzulla has been alive and anything Belichick says should be carefully considered going forward.
While one can only speculate as to what Mazzulla and Belichick were actually talking about, there are definitely a few things that Boston Celtics fans should want Mazzulla to learn from the all-time great head coach.
“Do Your Job”
If you follow Patriots football, chances are you have heard the phrase, “Do your job” at some point. Belichick harps on this phrase and the fanbase has embraced it as the story behind New England’s 2015 Superbowl ring.
Essentially, the way Belichick coaches requires a complete buy-in and devotion to whatever system he wants to play. Every player has to be committed to doing what they were assigned to do and doing it well. Whether this encompasses the small things like blocking downfield or knowing exactly where to sit in zone coverage, Belichick expects players to know even the smallest details when it comes to playing and winning games.
For Mazzulla, he can take the “Do your job” expression and apply to rotation guys like Pritchard, Hauser, Walsh, Brissett, etc. These guys do not have to be the star players, the Celtics have plenty of firepower with their All-NBA duo in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. What is expected of these guys is to fill in minutes when the starters are off the floor.
Although no longer with the team, the first guy that comes to mind is Grant Williams. Although at times he tried to do too much, straying away from the “do your job” mantra, Williams filled his role exceptionally well throughout the season. On defense, the Cs knew they could rely on him to guard positions 1-5. On offense, he was a reliable shooter and more often than not, made the right pass when it was available.
For me, that is the perfect embodiment of “Do your job.” Not trying to do too much, not playing for himself, but doing whatever is needed for the team to be put in good positions to win.
Before I get into this part, it is important to understand that Mazzulla is the youngest head coach in the NBA and last season was his first ever season as a head coach. That being said, I think Mazzulla needs to hold more players accountable and institute more control over his team.
With Belichick, no player is immune to criticism, reduced playing time, or even being benched. There are many stories about how Belichick would hold Tom Brady accountable for his poor performances. For Belichick, it does not matter who you are if you are not putting the team in a better position to win.
For Mazzulla, I think Boston Celtics fans would like to see this with his substitutions and closing lineups. Last season, it felt like at times Mazzulla was influenced by the names on the jerseys rather than the production of the players. While many will argue certain players have to be on the floor no matter how poorly they are playing, Mazzulla has to do a better job showing his players that he is not afraid to take them out if they are not playing well.
Tomorrow is a new day
Although the basketball season is drastically different in terms of the time between games, quantity of games, and preparation for games, there are still lessons that Mazzulla can learn from Belichick on a game-to-game basis.
Of the many famous Belichick interviews and press conferences “On to Cincinnati” is one of my favorites. For context, the Patriots had just gotten embarrassed by the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 41-14. Instead of answering questions about the game, Belichick would simply respond “On to Cincinnati.”
What Belichick meant is there is no time to dwell on bad losses or even big wins, the team must move on to the next game and start preparing for their next opponent.
For Mazzulla, he has to take this mindset and not panic if the Boston Celtics have a bad night and get blown out. Over the course of an 82-game season, there will be nights where the C’s shots don’t fall. What cannot happen is for the Celtics to dwell on these nights and lose focus on the real task at hand, winning a championship.
While it is entirely possible Mazzulla and Belichick’s conversations had nothing to do with coaching, it is still nice to see Mazzulla continue embracing the Boston culture. As many Celtics fans know, Mazzulla reportedly watched The Town four times a week.
Joe Mazzulla is summoning more city legends to inspire Boston Celtics
In addition, during the playoffs, Mazzulla had the players sit down to watch the 2004 Red Sox documentary. Learning from the championship teams and coaches is just the start for Mazzulla.
If he wants to be in the conversation with the likes of Belichick and the 2004 Red Sox team, he has to prove he can bring home his own championship to the City of Champions.