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Joe Mazzulla sets high expectations, benches Dalano Banton against 76ers

New to the team, the young point guard learns a valuable lesson from his head coach.

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Dalano Banton is certainly learning the “Celtic way.”

Twenty-six seconds into the second half against the 76ers, Joe Mazzulla saw enough from the lack of hustle from Dalano Banton. Boston failed to protect the glass on a Tobias Harris missed shot, which resulted in Payton Pritchard hustling for the ball. Not only did Banton lack effort to retrieve the possession, but he also often looked lost on defense on numerous occasions. Mazzulla visibly gave Banton a mouthful before the point guard took his seat on the bench.

Banton returned to action in the third quarter and was held scoreless in 16 minutes. He couldn’t find his shot, but finished with 4 rebounds and a +15. The Celtics cruised to a 112-101 victory over Philadelphia and moved to 2-1 on the preseason.

The C’s head coach is frequently praised by his fellow coaches and teammates, often described as intense and blunt. In his second season with the Celtics, Mazzulla is clearly setting the expectations for this championship caliber roster, one that’s poised to make another run at Banner 18.

“Listen, there’s nothing more important than holding people to a high standard, especially when you believe in them, and they know they can be really good. We have a roster of 1-17 that I truly believe in, and there’s just a good learning opportunity. There was a loose ball there, and I thought he [Banton] could’ve gotten it,” said Mazzulla of his team-wide accountability.

If there’s one key to take away from last night: Mazzulla expects hustle and grit from his players. For the deep bench, he especially expects “toughness, physicality, and IQ.” With a real shot to make this roster, Banton was open to criticism from Joe.

“Credit to him that he was able to take coaching, and he responded really, really well,” Mazzulla continued. “He’s got a chance to be a really good player in this league, and I loved, just loved the mentality that he brought to being coached, and then responding. That’s super-important. I’m thankful that he allowed me to coach him.”

For a player that’s fairly raw, it appears Mazzulla is willing to help development Banton, and believes in his capabilities.

Banton, who signed a two-year contract with the Cs in July, is fighting for a roster spot after playing two years in Toronto. Listed as 6’7, Banton is a versatile ball handler and defender. With a 6’11 wingspan, Banton has the necessary length and height to defend, as well as set screens. In a way, he resembles Shaun Livingston, who played 15 years in the NBA.

Arriving at Boston eight weeks early, Banton will have to prove himself among an incredibly deep training camp team. With Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, and Payton Pritchard projected in front of Banton, #45 is unlikely to see meaningful minutes.

However, the Toronto native impressed and played aggressive in Boston’s 114-107 loss against the New York Knicks on Monday. Banton finished with 20 points, on 8-19 (42.1 percent), and 1-3 (33. percent) from long range. Showcasing his playmaking slashing abilities, Banton had several drives to the basketball, which includes drives over Mitchell Robinson. A true point guard, the Celtics guard is capable of creating the mismatches and has an overall entertaining skill set.

He will desperately need to work on his shot and is viewed as a low risk, high reward player with room for development. A 27.5 percent three-point shooter, Banton has a career average of 3.7 points on 10.3 minutes, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists.

“Being a Celtic is not something that’s given to you,” said Banton on Monday. “We should feel honored to be a Celtic, and when we walk into that gym, you feel the history, you feel what’s been going on in there.”

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