The Boston Celtics continue their storied comeback from down 0-3 to the Miami Heat. While they are still in pursuit of that feat, Coach Joe Mazzula etched his name among legendary coaches like Paul Westphal and Joe Mullaney. Mazzulla ensured his Jayson Tatum-led squad executed down this stretch and was rewarded by being one of the most legendary rookie head coaches in NBA history.
Joe Mazzulla broke a 30-year untouched rookie head coach record. More specifically, he is the 3rd rookie head coach ever to win 4+ games at the brink of elimination, per ESPN Stats & Info. A testament to how great he has coached the team in do-or-die situations.
Joe Mazzulla is the 3rd rookie head coach in NBA history to win 4+ games when facing elimination, joining Paul Westphal in 1993 and Joe Mullaney in 1970. pic.twitter.com/gd600201hC
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 26, 2023
Mazzulla joins 1993 Phoenix Suns coach Westphal and 1970 Lakers' Mullaney. The Celtics' head coach has faced this adversity more than once in these playoffs. Notably, they were in the face of elimination in their second-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Joe Mazzulla and the Celtics' coaching matchups
This feat is not easy to acquire. The Celtics had to face great coaches that Mazzulla triumphed over. In his first taste of having his back up on the wall, he outcoached a championship-winning Doc Rivers. Not to mention, the 76ers had the MVP on their hands with Joel Embiid. Facing elimination twice, the Celtics coach got past them.
Now, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is the new challenge for the Celtics in these Eastern Conference Finals. He notably led the trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh to championships which make the feat tougher. Moreover, Spoelstra also aims to replicate the 1999 New York Knicks' finals run as the eighth seed.
One of the most storied franchises in North American pro sports only becomes more legendary with rookie coach Joe Mazzulla at the helm. Banner 18 is loading up for the Boston Celtics as they try to defy history like they always do.