During the Celtics’ two-day respite after beating the Rockets and Mavericks back-to-back, the top of the Eastern Conference got a makeover. In Milwaukee, former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers replaces former Celtic Adrian Griffin after he led the Bucks to a 30-13 record with the league’s second most efficient offense.
They flexed that firepower in a 135-102 blowout of Boston two weeks ago, but the Bucks are still 3.5 games behind the Celtics and management did not exactly consider themselves on a championship path. The Celtics, on the other hand, have been humming through the regular season with little reported drama and it’s human nature to compare your progress with your competitors’. However, for Joe Mazzulla, this week’s news hasn’t changed his focus.
“I don’t think they’re competing with us,” Mazzulla said. “First of all, we haven’t won. So, I don’t know why anyone’s competing with us. We haven’t won a championship since 2008. We’re certainly not the standard. We’re chasing people just as much as people may say they’re chasing us. You know what I mean? We don’t even look at it in that standpoint. We just have to keep that healthy balance of knowing we’re a really good team, but there’s also other really good teams and how do we match up against them and how do we continue to get better as a team.”
Joe Mazzulla: " We haven't won so I don't know why anybody's competing with us. We haven't won a championship since 2008... we're chasing people just as much as people may say they're chasing us" pic.twitter.com/wUqhWejsso— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 24, 2024
So far this season, The Celtics are 1-1 against the Bucks, 2-1 against the Philadelphia 76ers, and 1-0 against the Heat and will wrap up their three-game road trip with a healthy roster in Miami tonight.
It’ll be the second time that Jrue Holiday, once coveted by the Heat after losing out on the Damian Lillard sweepstakes, faces the reigning East champs, but this isn’t the same team that Boston beat in their home opener on October 27. On Monday, Miami moved Kyle Lowry and a protected first round pick to Charlotte in exchange for former Celtic, Terry Rozier.
"I think they get better, for sure."— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 24, 2024
Jaylen Brown reacts to Terry Rozier being traded to Miami Heat pic.twitter.com/ChuSGac0g7
“I think it makes sense. I think Terry is already a native of Miami,” Jaylen Brown joked after Wednesday’s practice. “I’m happy for him. It kind of fits him where their culture represents.”
“I think they get better for sure,” Brown continued on the trade. “Terry’s athleticism, playoff experience, all that type of stuff, I think he’ll fit right in.”
“Tough, competitor, physical, that type of mindset, playoff experience, I think he goes along with all of that.”
Last night, Miami lost to Memphis 105-96 and in his debut, Rozier came off the bench for 9 points (3-of-11 shooting) with five assists and two steals. But if we know anything about Scary Terry, he can heat up at the right time.