Home NBA Mazzulla clarifies attempt to block Suns player’s shot after timeout

Mazzulla clarifies attempt to block Suns player’s shot after timeout

Photo: West Virginia Men’s Basketball/X

The Boston Celtics secured a spot in the postseason with their win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, maintaining their position atop the Eastern Conference standings. However, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla’s unexpected in-game decision has stirred discussion.

During the fourth quarter, Jaylen Brown intercepted a pass and executed an impressive dunk, prompting a timeout. Following the whistle, Suns forward Royce O’Neale attempted a shot, a common practice among players despite knowing it wouldn’t count.

However, Mazzulla surprised many by attempting to block O’Neale’s shot, which ultimately missed. Mazzulla addressed his actions in the postgame press conference, explaining his unusual move.

“I saw a guy going in to try to get a shot, and he hadn’t made one. And I didn’t want him to feel good about himself going to the bench,” Mazzulla said. “[Boston Globe writer] Gary [Washburn] asked me about that a month ago, and that’s a bench rule. Guys don’t shoot shots in front of our bench to go back to their bench to feel good about themselves. If I’m gonna ask the guys to contest, the staff’s gotta do the same.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the mindset and the approach that we bring, and it’s within the rules of the game. It’s about setting a tone, and it’s just that,” Mazzulla said. 

“One of the biggest pet peeves is thinking that a guy’s gonna get a free shot, and that’s not the way it works. If we’re gonna hold our team to a standard, we hold our staff to the same thing. There’s been times where we’ve missed it, and I’ve held the staff accountable to it. And we’ve gotta do the best job we can of not doing it.”

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