Joe Mazzulla's 'sandcastle' metaphor is resonating with Celtics originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
If you're Joe Mazzulla, how do you address your team after they've just scored 130-plus points for the third consecutive game to improve to an NBA-best 18-4?
You show them a sandcastle, of course.
After the Boston Celtics blitzed the Miami Heat 131-124 at TD Garden on Wednesday night to earn their fifth straight win, superstar Jayson Tatum revealed the unique motivational tactic his head coach has deployed during film sessions to keep the team grounded.
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"Every time we come to film, he shows this video or picture of a sandcastle," Tatum said of Mazzulla. "(It's) the metaphor of, you can build the best sandcastle on vacation, and when the tide comes up, it's going to wash it away.
"Basically, today was a good game, we won, but when we go into film tomorrow or Friday, we've got to build another sandcastle."
Tatum admitted Mazzulla's sandcastle message is "a little cheesy" but said he and his teammates have all bought in on the message their coach is trying to get across.
"It's a choice that we've got to make every day when we come in: to try to be the best version of ourselves," Tatum said. "And knowing that it's never going to be easy; we're always going to get the other team's best shot because of what we're ultimately trying to accomplish."
The Celtics have been on a mission since their 2022 NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors. Tatum is playing at a legitimate MVP level, while he and Jaylen Brown have both stressed that they're more focused on winning than individual accolades.
Mazzulla, who is the Celtics' longest-tenured coach after joining Brad Stevens' staff in 2019, appears to be in lock-step with his players to help them achieve their goal.
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"I think Joe's done a great job of not letting us be satisfied or complacent," Tatum said. "Which we aren't. Coming off a Finals loss, we know what the ultimate goal is. But just trying to take the right steps along the way in getting back to that point."
Mazzulla has maintained a relatively low-key (if rather direct) demeanor during press conferences this season since taking over as Boston's interim head coach. Behind closed doors, however, the 34-year-old coach is doing everything he can to make sure his team doesn't lose focus amid its red-hot start.
Considering the Celtics have beat up on good and bad teams alike both shorthanded and at full strength, it appears his message is sticking.