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May 21, 2023

Joe Mazzulla

Boston Celtics

Game 3: Postgame

Heat 128, Celtics 102

Q. Joe, the biggest game of the season, a game you had to have, and you guys just completely looked lost after the first six minutes. What happened out there?

JOE MAZZULLA: I just didn't have them ready to play.

Q. What was the mood around the team last 48 hours?

JOE MAZZULLA: Yeah, I just didn't have them ready to play. I should have -- whatever it was, whether it was the starting lineup or it was an adjustment, I have to get them in a better place ready to play, and that's on me.

Q. You've always been very level whenever things are going well, going poorly. At some point tonight did you just let them have it and show all the emotion you have, and at this moment do you feel like you need to show that to save the season?

JOE MAZZULLA: I think the most important thing is just sticking together, and then I have to be better. I've got to put them in better positions. I've got to get them ready to play. I have to have the game plan ready for us to be physical and to execute, and it's important that we stick together.

Q. Jaylen has talked about struggling to attack the mismatches in this series, and 0 for 7 from three tonight. What did you see from his game offensively for him to break out of the struggles he's in?

JOE MAZZULLA: I think just continue to take what the defense gives him, whether it's the threes -- I thought he got really good looks -- whether it's getting out in transition and just reading our spacing and making the right play.

Q. In the third quarter particularly you guys got it down to 12 at one point, they came back with a run, and it seemed like there wasn't much fight after that. How disappointing was it in your eyes just from the effort standpoint at that point in the game when things weren't going your way?

JOE MAZZULLA: Yeah, it's on me to be better for them so that they play harder.

Q. You keep saying it's on you, but can you be more specific? Was it the speech making?

JOE MAZZULLA: Yeah, I just didn't have them ready to play. I just didn't execute the proper game plan. I didn't put them in the right mentality to be ready, and it's my job to make sure that they're connected and that they're ready to play, and I didn't do that.

Q. In the privacy of your locker room, were you too loud, not loud enough?

JOE MAZZULLA: I don't know. At the time you think you say what needs to be said, but at the time I just have to be better. I've got to make sure when we step on that floor that we're ready to execute, we're ready to be physical, we're ready to play harder than the other team. That's my job.

Q. You said after Game 2 it was mental. Obviously, that took place tonight. Are you guys getting demoralized by the fact that they're hitting shots? Seems like everything you do they have a counter for. Is that demoralizing to your guys on the floor?

JOE MAZZULLA: Yeah, I think it starts with we've got to defend, we have to get stops, we have to execute, and yes, when you do not execute on the defensive end and they make shots, then it affects the way you play offense. We just have to put our identity into our defensive execution first.

Q. This seems to be a continuation of the regular season where teams that have been below you in the standings, you guys have had some struggles against that. Is this an issue of bad habits from the regular season showing themselves at the worst time?

JOE MAZZULLA: I think it's regardless of the roster, we're playing against a great team. We're a great team. Right now, they have a mentality and we don't, and we have to get that back.

Q. The offense, it seemed like if you were in half-court, you guys would run an action, maybe one, two, and get to the first shot you could find. This team at its best has always shown the patience to keep moving the ball, have actual motion to eventually open things up. We saw Miami did that. Why do you think you weren't able to do that and really for a lot of the series?

JOE MAZZULLA: Just not creating an advantage fast enough in the shot clock to help us get to that.

Q. As far as some of the defensive breakdowns go, Caleb Martin shooting 50 percent from three in the series, it feels like he's getting left open a lot of the time on the weak side. What's leading to that?

JOE MAZZULLA: In Game 1 he did. We changed the matchup in Game 2 and 3 to where we have a smaller guy on him looking to make sure that he doesn't do that, but at times if you want to double Butler or if you put two on the ball with the shooter, he ends up being the guy that you shift off of. We just have to be more disciplined in the first level of our defense to where we don't have those breakdowns.

Q. You guys have been one of the best defensive teams for the last couple of years, last few years really. Has some of that been lost, and tonight, what went into the Heat having so much success against your defense?

JOE MAZZULLA: Yeah, I think some of that defensive identity has been lost, and we have to get that back, and that's where part of that is on me to make sure we get that back.

Q. Besides your responsibility, any of the star players, they also have some responsibility? What can they do in order to get the team ready to play?

JOE MAZZULLA: No, it starts with me. I have to be better.

Q. Along those lines, whenever these guys are up here, they take ownership. Especially when things are going wrong, they say, hey, we're the ones shooting the ball, we're the ones playing defense, this is on us, this isn't on our coach. Do you want them to take that ownership, and is that something that can translate on to the court?

JOE MAZZULLA: I think they're doing everything they can to be in position. We just have to be better.

Q. Tatum and Brown were held to 12 of 35 shooting tonight. How tough have the Heat and their defensive principles made it on them to be effective for you guys?

JOE MAZZULLA: Yeah, we don't get out in the first six seconds and create an advantage and we don't get those, it makes it difficult to play against a set defense later in the shot clock, and that's kind of where we're having the struggle is we're not dictating the pace with those early offensive advantages.

Q. You said you thought the defensive identity has been lost. When did that happen? What have you seen that shows you that the defensive identity is gone right now?

JOE MAZZULLA: Just these last couple games. I think just the execution, just we're not connected. Usually at our best, we're connected, we're together, we're physical on the defensive end, and we don't have that right now.

Q. I don't want to say you lost this team, but is there a disconnect between you and the players at this point? Is there something not quite working that might have worked in February or January that you're not telling them to lose by 28 points, but you're telling them to try, so is there a disconnect?

JOE MAZZULLA: Yeah, that's where I have to be better, figure out what this team needs to make sure that they're connected, they're physical and they're together by the time we step on the floor.

Q. What do you think caused that disconnect?

JOE MAZZULLA: I'm not sure.

Q. What do you do over the next two days to try to get all of this, as you said, to get this back to where you need it to be after what obviously is a pretty demoralizing loss going into what could be the last game of the season?

JOE MAZZULLA: Yeah, the most important thing is how can we get our defensive identity, how can we get just a clear understanding of what it looks like on the offensive end and just keep it as simple as we can so that we're connected and we're physical, that we play with the right mindset and we play together.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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