The Boston Celtics’ tactics in their In-Season Tournament game vs. the Chicago Bulls caused an uproar. Billy Donovan was upset at their Hack-a-Drummond strategy, Jaylen Brown and Jrue Holiday felt weird about the tactics, and Joe Mazzulla even apologized to Donovan and Andre Drummond post-game.
But that awkwardness doesn’t translate everywhere.
“Talk to KP,” Mazzulla said at Thursday’s practice. “KP has been playing with point differential his whole career. He can’t fathom why he wouldn’t play up 30 points to get it there. Like that’s his definition of respect for the game.”
Boston reinserted their starters into the game with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter on Tuesday when up by 30+ points. In their eyes, it was disrespectful, but for Porzingis, it’s normal.
In Europe and in overseas ball, point differential matters. They’re always playing for points, so no matter the score, they go hard. Failure to do so would be a disrespect to the game.
In the NBA, it’s sort of the opposite.
“The American definition of respect for the game is we all stop playing when it’s a 20-point game and let someone else go play for us,” said Mazulla. “And so it’s just a different level of expectation.”
But the game against Chicago shed some light on a new outlook.
“It’s just a different level of expectation. And so, the In-Season Tournament has really helped kind of give the perspective of like, should we not be trying when you’re up 32 points? Or up 25? Or 15?”
Should effort ever cease? For a team like the Celtics who have become known for blowing double-digit leads (regardless of if the game ends in a loss), maybe the In-Season Tournament could open a door to greener pastures in that regard.
At the very least, it gives them a chance to create a new philosophy moving forward.”
“I think if we could, at some point, be the team that’s the best at playing regardless of what the score is, it allows us to build the [right] mindset,” said Mazzulla.