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Joe Mazzulla cuts down on practices as Celtics work through hectic portion of schedule

Jaylen Brown said he's refocusing on basketball after being outspoken on NBA Players Association issues over the past few weeks.Mary Schwalm/Associated Press

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla has cut down on practices to give his team ample rest during a hectic schedule.

The Celtics don’t have more than one day off until Dec. 8-9, a stretch that includes two back-to-backs and a two-games-in-three-days against the rival Miami Heat.

Mazzulla said he doesn’t sense the players are tired.

“I feel like they’re fresh physically,” he said. “I feel like they’re fresh mentally. We always have to find ways to get guys rest and steal minutes here are there. I think guys are in a great spot physically and mentally.”

There are times when Mazzulla could squeeze in practices, such as Thanksgiving or Saturday prior to Sunday’s game with Washington, but he hasn’t.


“I think it’s based on the guys, kind of what they need,” Mazzulla said. “The NBA season presents so many opportunities to do different things and you don’t have to practice to practice. There’s a lot of other ways to get better. I think you have to highlight ways you can grow as a team and get better, whether it’s through film, whether it’s through conversation, or a walkthrough, or a day off.

“I think it’s just a matter of feeling what our guys need and putting them in their best situation.”

Focusing on hoop

Jaylen Brown said he has been pulled by a lot of off-court forces, such as the Kyrie Irving issue, and he wants to refocus on the game. Brown has been dealing with the Irving issue as one of the vice presidents in the NBA Players Association. He has also gotten criticism for a Tweet that appeared to express support for Black Israelites who gathered outside of the Barclays Center to support the return of Irving from suspension.

“I’m just focusing more on what’s in front of me,” he said. “There’s been a lot of stuff that’s been going on outside of basketball. Taking care of the ball and helping us win games has been my emphasis right now.”


When asked how he tries to focus solely on basketball, Brown said: “Do the best you can and balance everything, regardless of what you say, some people are going to disagree or try to form an opinion [on your stance]. Just come out and do what I’ve been doing, try to uplift my community, spreading kindness, spreading love, just trying to be the best version of myself with any and everybody around me. That’s what I’ve been since I came into this league and that’s what I am doing to continue to do.”

Malcolm Brogdon received the Muhammed Ali Award for Humanity earlier this month.Michael Reaves/Getty

Award winner

Malcolm Brogdon was presented with the Muhammad Ali Award for Humanity from the Muhammad Ali Center on Nov. 5. Brogdon, 29, has organized programs to provide clean water to countries such as Tanzania. Brogdon’s mother, Kay Adams, accepted the award in his honor during the ceremony in Louisville. Brogdon said he was humbled.

“It’s a huge honor,” he said. “Definitely if not the best, one of the best honors I’ve received. Just to be able to represent Muhammad Ali, in any way, who was an idol of mine is a honor, a blessing. I’m very thankful to have received that award. It’s acknowledgment. It’s a nod to say that you’re doing great work, you’re making an impact, but you have to keep going. You have to continue to impact people with the platform you have, with the resources you have. Now it’s your duty to continue to keep going.”


Celtics' 2022 second-round pick JD Davison is dealing with a sprained ankle.Steven Senne/Associated Press


The Celtics’ normal pre-game routine was postponed because of the overtime Bruins game, which delayed the transformation of the hockey rink to a basketball floor. When several players hit the floor ready for shooting, there was only one basket stanchion prepared. Mazzulla said the delay had no effect on their preparation . . . Former Celtics guard Leandro Barbosa is a Kings assistant, joining coach Mike Brown after a stint with the Golden State Warriors . . . The Celtics only reported Danilo Gallinari and Robert Williams on their injury report, as Jayson Tatum made it through his ankle sprain to play Wednesday and participated in Friday’s shootaround.

Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at gary.washburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.