LeBron James Loved Joe Mazzulla’s Subtle ‘Genius’ Move in Celtics’ Win Over Pacers

May 9, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla watches from the sideline as they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers during game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
May 9, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla watches from the sideline as they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers during game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James loves basketball, not just because he's been very good at it for most of his life. If you've listened at all to his new podcast, Mind the Game, with JJ Redick it doesn't take long to realize King James is at his happiest when he's breaking down the little parts of a game that can make a big difference in the final score.

That was on display again in this week's episode when he and Redick talked about a moment in the Celtics' Game 1 win over the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals that went unnoticed by a lot of people, including even James. With Boston up by six points late in overtime, Mazzulla had his team foul to send Indiana to the line because it would remain a two-possession game no matter what happened with the free throws.

James gushed about that move, telling Redick: "This Joe Mazzulla guy’s a f------ genius. The more I talk to you the more and more I like this Joe guy. "

James added this about Mazzulla's temperament during games:

"I see why he sits over there and he says absolutely nothing and he’s calm as f---," James said. "He only gets a little (mad) when he knows they’re not playing the right way offensively. It’s never defensively. It’s never because of the three-point attempts. It’s never, ever if a team makes a run. He’s calm. It’s only when they don’t play the game the right way that he gets a little angry."

Here's that conversation. There are some F-bombs in here so run away if you don't like that:

Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Mavs and Celtics will tip off Thursday night in Boston.


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Andy Nesbitt

ANDY NESBITT

Andy Nesbitt is the Assistant Managing Editor of Audience Engagement at Sports Illustrated. He works closely with the Breaking & Trending News Team to shape SI’s daily coverage across all sports. He has been working in sports media for over 20 years, appearing on Fox Sports, For the Win, The Boston Globe, and NBC Sports. He’s a golf fanatic who desperately wants to see the Super Bowl played on a Saturday night.