Less than 12 hours after the Celtics avoided elimination with a 116-99 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, Joe Mazzulla kept it simple and straightforward during his Wednesday morning press availability.
Reflecting on his first win in the series, the oft-criticized Celtics coach underscored the value of his team’s mentality.
“Before any game plan or any adjustment, the most important thing is having trust,” said Mazzulla. “When we’re at our best, that’s what we do.”
The Celtics still trail Miami, three games to one, and again will face elimination when Game 5 tips off at TD Garden Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
Asked about the adjustments he expects from the Heat, Mazzulla re-emphasized the need for a collective approach.
“I expect them all to be more aggressive and look to attack us in different ways,” he said. “We just have to be ready to answer that with the physicality and the detail on the defensive end. We have to guard five-on-five.”
After they entered the series as clear favorites, the Celtics’ subsequent trio of defeats led to speculation about possible issues within the team. With the Game 4 win, they not only kept their season alive but offered a riposte — albeit a potentially temporary one — to critics.
What exactly did Mazzulla see in his team’s demeanor between Games 3 and 4?
“Just our togetherness and communication,” said the coach. “These guys have been around each other for a long time.
“They have an understanding and perspective about the situation that we’re in and what it takes. They just stick together.”
Hayden Bird can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.