This is the first of four matchups with their division rivals, and while guarding Joel Embiid always poses a challenge, it’ll be more difficult considering the inexperience of Boston’s big man rotation. Mazzulla referenced the final preseason game against the Raptors, saying “That was a good learning tool for us in the Toronto game, how can we combat other teams’ physicality.”
Philadelphia’s identity will undoubtedly be based on physicality, especially after the offseason acquisitions of PJ Tucker, De’Anthony Melton, and Montrezl Harrell. Last season, the Celtics relied heavily on two-big lineups, but as Robert Williams recovers from offseason knee surgery, the team might be forced to alter its offensive lineups.
“We built an identity, especially last season, of playing big. And in the preseason, we’ve shown we can be small and [play] with our speed and our skill,” Mazzulla said. “So, it’s a matter of us, which one do we wanna play to, and how do we wanna be comfortable out there on the floor. So, it’s just something that we’re gonna constantly talk about, and it may change throughout the year.”
Mazzulla also spoke about the planned ceremony for Bill Russell and how it’s an honor to coach a historic franchise like the Celtics. He talked about having moments of appreciation, but ultimately his focus stays on the game plan and preparation.
When asked about whether tomorrow would be a statement game, he said, “every day is a statement. That’s important to me,” further saying, “we’re not gonna skip steps and we have to treat every day with the utmost detail, and the utmost approach of what we’re trying to accomplish.”