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Joe Mazzulla needs breathing room allowed for Tommy Heinsohn

 Let's all remember! Joe Mazzulla is a ROOKIE head coach. He inherited a team with prehaps the top pairing in the entire NBA in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but that has a few negatives attached to it.


Flash back to the Celtics 1969-70 season, Tommy Heinson's rookie season as head coach. Bill Russell and Sam Jones had just retired and Red Auerbach had turned his team over to his former "whipping boy", a move that tells a lot about the redhead's respect for Tommy. Heinsohn admitted that his rookie coaching campaign was "pure trauma".

Now back to the present. Heinsohn had some breathing room in 1969-70 since most of the hopes for the season rested on the shoulders of veteran John Havlicek. The Celtics finished with a record of 34-48 with "Jarrin' John" leading his team in points, rebounds and assists. Not that bad for a team on the mend after losing two of their top stars. Joe Mazzulla has no such wiggle room.

After the loss to the Warriors in last season's Finals, hopes for 2022-23 were high - despite the Ime Udoka scandal that threatened to tip things in a negative way. Boston holds the third-best record in the entire League and are at 45-21, but facing a 3-game losing streak - while holding a 5-5 record over the last 10 games.

Things turned around for Heinsohn when Dave Cowens arrived for the 1970-71 season. Tommy's strategy was simple - and it worked. He had his troops run the fast break and employed only three plays. After his first Championship against the Milwaukee Bucks in 1974, Tommy revealed his game plan that worked so well:

The victory was an affirmation of Heinsohn’s coaching ideas. In what he called “guerrilla warfare,” his teams kept the pressure on opponents at all times, controlling the tempo of the game and playing with great intensity. “We made teams crack in these playoffs,” he told the Boston Globe. “We got them to points in big games in the fourth quarter where they just didn’t want to play anymore.”

"Simplicity", "guerrilla warfare", "great intensity", "fast break", "they (opponents) just didn't want to play anymore"! Now there are some ideas for Joe and his present crew. Meanwhile. time to give this rookie coach some leeway. He has a lot to figure out in his first season leading a Boston team where the fans (and media) often prove to be a tough lot.

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