Following a 102-100 Denver Nuggets victory over the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden on January 19, 2007-08 championship starting center Kendrick Perkins had a condescending message for Joe Mazzulla: that his brain would make a bird fly backwards.
“They have two Joe Mazzullas,” Perkins said (h/t MassLive). “They have the one that got the philosophy of we’re going to get up more 3s than you. When they hit them, he looks great. Then you have the other Joe Mazzulla, who just stands over there, and you wonder. If you take his brain out and you put it in a bird, the bird is going to start flying backwards. You got that Joe Mazzulla.
“You know why I say that? It’s because he doesn’t get his guys easy looks. Time and time again, we kept saying, attack the paint. You have so many guys that are great at cutting. They cannot continue to play AAU style basketball all the time. You gotta have sets.”
Joe Mazzulla's coaching didn't cause Boston Celtics loss down the stretch
In truth, criticism didn't need to be doled out by anyone, let alone one of the franchise's beloved enforcers from a highly successful era in Celtics history, against Mazzulla for having faced a Nuggets team whose coach, Mike Malone, managed his rotations like it was a playoff game; deploying Aaron Gordon in backup minutes at the five and playing only seven players more than 10 minutes. He even stuck Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on Jayson Tatum to the point of mimicking No. 0's minutes for KCP to match.
Mazzulla wasn't the one missing potential game-tying threes and free-throws down the stretch. He did, however, fail to draw up a good play to tie or win the game as time was expiring. That's been a weakness of his.
But that's not the sole reason the Cs lost this game, and it doesn't make his brain one that'd send birds north in the winter.