Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics speaks with head coach Joe Mazzulla during Game 1 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

An explosive new report by Adrian Wojnarowski sheds light on why the Boston Celtics have looked so bad against the Miami Heat that they’ve seemingly given up on their season – and on head Joe Mazzulla.

The latest “Woj bomb” on Boston concerns the saga of Ime Udoka last fall, when the now-Houston Rockets head coach was let go over a reported relationship with a Celtics employee. According to Woj, the Celtics couldn’t let the firing go, and it’s contributed in large part to their disconnect with Mazzulla, which now has a good chance of torpedoing their season.

It sounds like, based on Woj’s reporting, the players were not and are still not happy about how the organization handled the whole thing.

  • “This team, this locker room, they never got over Ime Udoka’s dismissal as head coach,” Wojnarowski said. “These players did not accept the organization’s reasoning for doing it. They thought it was a wild overreaction. There were people on the outside who thought it was an overreaction, it was an HR matter. And I think for this team, and talking with management, I think [the players] felt they never got any more answers than the public was getting on this.

    “That doesn’t mean they haven’t accepted Joe Mazzulla as head coach. But, this is a team that really believed in Ime Udoka, had a strong connection with him.”

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 13: Marcus Smart #36 and members of the Boston Celtics listen to head coach Ime Udoka during a timeout at the end of the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors in Game Five of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 13, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

  • Woj then mentioned two times the “angst resurfaced” over Udoka’s ouster. It was the two occasions you’d think it would: when reports surfaced that Udoka was set to become the Brooklyn Nets’ next head coach, and the news of his ultimate hiring in Houston to coach the Rockets.

    In addition, Woj reminded that the C’s talked to Frank Vogel and Jay Larranaga about coaching the team before the season, and that they also lost assistant Will Hardy to the Utah Jazz. The Celtics even lost Damon Stoudamire to Georgia Tech, inĀ March.

  • There will be plenty of blame to go around from top to bottom, if and when the Heat put an and to this miserable series by the Celtics.

    In light of Mazzulla’s inexperience and how it has been badly exposed against Miami, President of Basketball Ops Brad Stevens is deserving of some criticism and second-guessing. He left his staff excessively thin and put a 34-year-old first-time head coach in charge of a team with championship aspirations. That will go down as a big misstep by Stevens.

    But ultimately, it’s hard not to blame Tatum and Brown for this mess more than anyone. All-NBA players should be able to overcome bad coaching, regardless. But they also need to be mature enough to handle organizational decisions better than they apparently did with the head coaching change.

    Dec 5, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla talks to Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) as he comes to the bench during the second half against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

  • Despite their significant disadvantage in the coaching department, the Celtics were still beyond good enough to beat the Heat, let alone not get swept or otherwise embarrassed by a less talented team. The players should blame no one for that more than themselves.

    Click here for complete Boston Celtics coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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