Celtics’ Head Coach Joe Mazzulla was asked about high expectations for this Celtics team, and how he is dealing with the pressure as head coach.

Joe Mazzulla is taking a fresh perspective into Year 2 of his NBA head coaching career.

Mazzulla was unexpectedly promoted from Boston Celtics assistant coach to interim head coach in the wake of Ime Udoka’s year-long suspension just before the 2022-23 campaign. In February, the C’s removed the interim tag to officially make Mazzulla the 19th head coach in franchise history.

There were lofty expectations surrounding the team then, and they’re even higher now with Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday joining the fold. On Monday, Mazzulla addressed those expectations while candidly explaining his new mindset entering his second head coaching season.

“You definitely embrace them,” Mazzulla said. “You can’t ignore them. If you ignore them, you’re lying to yourself. And so, I think that’s another area to grow for me as a coach from Year 1 to Year 2, is this idea of surrendering. You just have to get rid of the fact that this is the situation that you’re in. You’ve got to swing for the fences, do the absolute best that you can, go balls to the wall, and surrender the result of what may happen.

“It was a process for me internally of, like, hey, I’ve got this opportunity to coach one of the greatest organizations, my hometown organization. (Mazzulla is a Rhode Island native.) And at the end of the day, I can’t really control what’s going to happen to me other than what I can do every single day. There was even some of that this offseason, this idea of surrendering to that whatever may happen and just say, ‘(Expletive) it, we’re gonna just go for this thing.'”

Mazzulla was asked whether he had a “balls to the wall” mentality last season, too.

“I did, yeah, but there were still moments of I have a responsibility to this organization,” Mazzulla answered. “I put more pressure on myself to want to move it forward, and you kind of have to surrender to the fact that you may move it forward, but you may not get the results that everybody wants. So, can you just still bring it every single day regardless, and do it the way you think it should be done, and do it together with good people?”

Mazzulla has preached a “team-first” mentality heading into the season and his players seem to have bought in. A number of players reported early to training camp, and C’s star Jayson Tatum doubled down on Mazzulla’s “sacrifices” mantra after their 123-110 preseason win over the New York Knicks.

“Any given night, somebody might come off the bench, somebody might not finish. It’s on all of us to understand it’s for the betterment of the team. We have to buy into that,” he said.

Boston’s quest for Banner 18 begins Oct. 25 against the Knicks. The opening tip is set for 7 p.m. ET right here on NBC Sports Boston.


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