The Boston Celtics are hoping to regain control of their series against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 3, led by rookie coach Joe Mazzulla. Mazzulla has achieved impressive results in his first season with the Celtics, guiding them to a 57-25 record in the regular season, the franchise’s most successful since 2008-09. The Celtics are positioned well for a repeat turn in the NBA Finals and remain the favorites of oddsmakers to win the 2023 NBA championship.
After a 121-87 drubbing of the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2, Mazzulla ended his postgame media session by rhetorically spiking his clipboard on his audience. Nobody had asked him about the adjustments made from Game 1 to Game 2, but the difference in circumstances from Game 1 to Game 2 was so dramatic that Boston’s game plan required an overhaul, not mere adjustments. Mazzulla’s biggest adjustment had been evident, both during the game and in the questions and answers of his podium visit: they played angry and frustrated, and they played harder.
Game 3 is now on the clock for Mazzulla, Sixers coach Doc Rivers, their respective staffs, and all their players. While short of mandatory, a victory Friday night at Wells Fargo Center could be pivotal for either side. A Celtics victory would grab back home-court advantage for Boston, potentially raise further questions about Embiid’s game-worthiness in coming back from a sprained right knee, and shift the tougher postgame moments to Rivers’ pressers, while a bounce-back by Philadelphia would demonstrate Embiid’s improved condition or buy him a little more time in a trek to full health.