The Boston Celtics have arguably the richest history in the NBA, and already, Joe Mazzulla is making his mark on the annals of the franchise.
The Celtics are off to a 12-3 start in the 2022-23 campaign and hold the best record in the NBA. That is the second-best start to a career by a first-year Celtics coach, tying Chris Ford’s start in 1990.
Only one coach has done better: Bill Russell, arguably the greatest player in franchise history. Russell took over as a player-coach to start the 1966-67 season and led Boston to a 13-2 start to the campaign. The Celtics finished 60-21 but lost in the Eastern Division Finals — one of the few seasons Russell didn’t earn a championship ring.
Coincidentally, Ford’s 1990-91 shook out in a similar fashion. Boston finished that regular season with a 56-26 record before losing in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
Mazzulla is currently the Celtics’ interim coach, but the team’s hot start is growing the odds that he could become the team’s full-time coach.
“Everything is aligned and in place for Joe Mazzulla to be the long-term coach for the Boston Celtics, except one thing,” said ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday on Sportscenter. “Ime Udoka is technically still the head coach of the Boston Celtics on suspension, but for all intents and purposes, he has coached his last game in Boston.”
Wojnarowski added that unless Udoka takes another job during the season (which he can do, as his suspension was placed by the team and not the league), then Mazzulla’s interim tag could stick. Udoka was rumored to take the open Nets job, but Brooklyn instead hired Jacque Vaughn to replace Steve Nash.
Mazzulla and the Celtics hunt their 13th win of the season on Friday when they face the Pelicans on Friday in New Orleans.