Joe Mazzulla, come on down.

Fishy1

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Yeah this is silly. We’ve had one B2B so far and Horford didn’t play. We’ve played 7 games and he’s played 25 min or fewer in 4 of them. We go to OT in one game and this board loses its mind lol.
I wouldn't say anyone is losing their mind - I get the concerns, I just think they're misplaced. Anecdotal and all, but I work out a ton and one hard day never kills me. Now, I'm not as old as Al, but I am 1 year out of heart surgery, so I imagine that levels things out ;) . It's when I go out and try to bust my ass two or three days in a row that I wake up with joint pain and brain fog and all the signs of an overloaded system. That's when you start being at greater risk for injuries.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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I wouldn't say anyone is losing their mind - I get the concerns, I just think they're misplaced. Anecdotal and all, but I work out a ton and one hard day never kills me. Now, I'm not as old as Al, but I am 1 year out of heart surgery, so I imagine that levels things out ;) . It's when I go out and try to bust my ass two or three days in a row that I wake up with joint pain and brain fog and all the signs of an overloaded system. That's when you start being at greater risk for injuries.
The buried lede here is that you had heart surgery and are kicking ass. Everything else is gravy.

That said, you had heart surgery in 2021? And you made it through last year?

Back to the minutes, I understand the concerns people have here but I just find it difficult to imagine that say, Horford, who almost certainly has one goal this season, let alone the Cs, who are likely aligned with Al's objective, to the regular season get in the way if they can avoid it.

However some folks really feel like Mazzulla, like Udoka and Stevens before them, is running the team into the ground. Maybe they will be proven correct but I would like to think this is something everyone with the team watches closely.
 

kieckeredinthehead

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The buried lede here is that you had heart surgery and are kicking ass. Everything else is gravy.

That said, you had heart surgery in 2021? And you made it through last year?

Back to the minutes, I understand the concerns people have here but I just find it difficult to imagine that say, Horford, who almost certainly has one goal this season, let alone the Cs, who are likely aligned with Al's objective, to the regular season get in the way if they can avoid it.

However some folks really feel like Mazzulla, like Udoka and Stevens before them, is running the team into the ground. Maybe they will be proven correct but I would like to think this is something everyone with the team watches closely.
Last year the main thing that kept them from a Championship was being run into the ground. Part of that was the staggering number of minutes the rotation played in the regular season. A lot of it was refusing to tank at the end for way more favorable seeding - when given the chance to rest key players, Udoka and/or the front office decided it was better to keep them tuned up and playoff ready, and as a result they had by far the most grueling playoff schedule, and looked completely wasted by the Finals.

There’s a fine line - you don’t want Tatum conditioned to play 30 minutes a night during the regular season and then tack on 8-10 minutes per game when they’re in the playoffs. But it looks to me like the organization has a philosophy that making sure players are in playoff shape by playing them big minutes (but, as mentioned up thread, less so on back to backs) was and is part of their philosophy. I don’t think the philosophy is to run players into the ground, I think it’s to keep them in shape so they’re ready for the increased demand come the postseason.

It worked until it didn’t - somehow they outlasted the Heat, in fact they seemed better conditioned than Miami and Milwaukee and that was a big difference in the game 7s. But by the time they got to Golden State it backfired pretty dramatically. It looks like they’re sticking with it this year. I’m not panicking over it, not even sure I disagree with the approach in theory, but it is possible that different teams have different ideas about how much the rotation should play in the regular season, and it is possible that some teams (including the Celtics) are wrong.
 

InstaFace

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This came up in the offseason when one poster (for the life of me I forget who it was) was adamant that backup bigs grow on trees. I’ve always promoted that this is one of the most difficult positions to fill as the player pool of 7-foot tall men in this world who can compete in an NBA game is extremely small. We are seeing an example of that right now.
I remember hearing a stat that if you're one of the handful of people on the planet who is 7 feet tall, you have a 1 in 6 chance of playing in the NBA. Doesn't mean you'll be Shaq, but you'll get a shot.

If they put the upper 1/6th of athletes who are my size on the NBA court, as opposed to the usual upper 0.00001%, I imagine they'd look about as awkward as most NBA bigs do while lumbering around with all these athletic freaks around them.
 

lexrageorge

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I remember hearing a stat that if you're one of the handful of people on the planet who is 7 feet tall, you have a 1 in 6 chance of playing in the NBA. Doesn't mean you'll be Shaq, but you'll get a shot.

If they put the upper 1/6th of athletes who are my size on the NBA court, as opposed to the usual upper 0.00001%, I imagine they'd look about as awkward as most NBA bigs do while lumbering around with all these athletic freaks around them.
FWIW, I never realized how tall 7’ really was until one day I was checking in at the reception desk at the American Airlines Admiral’s Club at Logan Airport. Next to me was Bill Walton (Kevin McHale was inducted into the B-Ball HoF over the prior weekend). Seven feet is fucking tall.
 
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Ferm Sheller

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FWIW, I never realized how tall 7’ really was until one day I was checking in at the reception desk at the American Airlines Admiral’s Club at Logan Airport. Next to me was Bill Walton (Kevin McHale was inducted into the B-Ball HoF over the prior weekend). Seven feet is fucking tall.
My dad and I was in line behind Hank Finkel at a K-mart in Scarborough, ME in about 1979 and he's far and away the tallest human being I've ever seen in person. Still sticks with me.
 

HomeRunBaker

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FWIW, I never realized how tall 7’ really was until one day I was checking in at the reception desk at the American Airlines Admiral’s Club at Logan Airport. Next to me was Bill Walton (Kevin McHale was inducted into the B-Ball HoF over the prior weekend). Seven feet is fucking tall.
I had not been around 7-footers since my playing days (3 of them semi-regularly) but one guy in our poker room played for Carnesecca at St Johns. My sleuth work found that he was listed at 7-2 in college. He’s tall.
 

Eddie Jurak

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FWIW, I never realized how tall 7’ really was until one day I was checking in at the reception desk at the American Airlines Admiral’s Club at Logan Airport. Next to me was Bill Walton (Kevin McHale was inducted into the B-Ball HoF over the prior weekend). Seven feet is fucking tall.
Bite your tongue! Bill Walton was only 6'11" you hater!

Bill Walton was obviously more than 7 feet tall, but he insisted on being listed at 6'11" because he did not want to be known as a "seven-foot freak."
 

Strike4

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I played basketball with a seven foot high school kid here in Portland once. It was great, we'd just lob the ball towards the basket on every possession and he'd grab it for layups or dunks.
 

TripleOT

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In college I was at a NYC bar near Bill Cartwright and Marvin The Eraser Webster. They both had to sit sidesaddle at the bar. I’m 6’4” and I felt like a midget next to those guys.

One season I got to my section early for a Celtics-Bulls game, and sitting two rows behind me, also sidesaddle, was Manute Bol. He was there for Luol Deng. Manute was the tallest person I ever stood next to in person, when he used to play in Newport Rhode Island. I don’t think I’m ever going to be in the presence of anybody taller.

It resonated with me this morning reading something on this site, that even though I’m only three inches or so shorter than someone like Grant Williams, he has a standing reach around nine inches better than mine, and he’s considered so undersized as a big that he can barely get his shot off near the basket.
 

lovegtm

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Joe seems more confident using timeouts lately, as the situation calls for it. I like his approach of working slowly into how he wants to use them, rather than just knee-jerk default using them all the time off the bat.
 

InstaFace

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Mazzulla's machismo about not calling timeouts to "let the players figure it out on the floor" has finally bit us in the ass good and hard.

The Celtics are on the back end of a back to back and gassed. They literally have nobody they can play. 4 of their top 6 players are out. Really not sure what mazz can do at this point.
The problem tonight vs the Heat wasn't the rotation, who had performed admirably under the trying circumstances. It was that nobody had any ideas on what action to run and were drained mentally and physically. If you want them to summon the energy for one good possession at the end of the game, you need to let them catch their breath for a minute, and tell them what to run so they don't have to think as much.

And then maybe use only half of those 16 seconds they had, such that if they miss, they still have a prayer to foul and tie. With our high BBIQ vets (Horford and Smart) out, the person who needed to make everyone aware of the situation was the coach.

This was a winnable game, and our coach didn't lose it for us, but he didn't put us in the best position to win.
 

GeorgeCostanza

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All I know is my dog is now conditioned to run for cover whenever he hears the word “TIMEOUT!!”

I’m all for letting guys play through the runs in the middle of a game but for the love of Christ you have to call timeout to set up the last possession, especially the way this game trended.
 

benhogan

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Mazzulla's machismo about not calling timeouts to "let the players figure it out on the floor" has finally bit us in the ass good and hard.


The problem tonight vs the Heat wasn't the rotation, who had performed admirably under the trying circumstances. It was that nobody had any ideas on what action to run and were drained mentally and physically. If you want them to summon the energy for one good possession at the end of the game, you need to let them catch their breath for a minute, and tell them what to run so they don't have to think as much.

And then maybe use only half of those 16 seconds they had, such that if they miss, they still have a prayer to foul and tie. With our high BBIQ vets (Horford and Smart) out, the person who needed to make everyone aware of the situation was the coach.

This was a winnable game, and our coach didn't lose it for us, but he didn't put us in the best position to win.
CJM should also call a TO at the end because 80% of the closing lineup (MB, MS, JB, AH) isn't even dressed, so there is no long-term benefit to "letting them figure it out on their own".

It's always been a questionable theory to begin with, but it's now hit the silliness stage. CJM digging his feet in won't be fun.
 
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Eddie Jurak

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Mazzulla's machismo about not calling timeouts to "let the players figure it out on the floor" has finally bit us in the ass good and hard.


The problem tonight vs the Heat wasn't the rotation, who had performed admirably under the trying circumstances. It was that nobody had any ideas on what action to run and were drained mentally and physically. If you want them to summon the energy for one good possession at the end of the game, you need to let them catch their breath for a minute, and tell them what to run so they don't have to think as much.

And then maybe use only half of those 16 seconds they had, such that if they miss, they still have a prayer to foul and tie. With our high BBIQ vets (Horford and Smart) out, the person who needed to make everyone aware of the situation was the coach.

This was a winnable game, and our coach didn't lose it for us, but he didn't put us in the best position to win.
Part of the issue on this play is that they didn't want Miami to be able to sub. Right or wrong, that was a motivation.

I don't think Mazzulla's decision not to call time excuses Tatum for throwing the ball away. Your best player should be able to not do that in any situation.

The issue with Mazzulla and timeouts is conflating a few different things. Timeouts to stop a run vs. timeouts to set up a play vs. timeouts because you have a guy down on the floor and your ballhandler is being blitzed and is about to turn it over. Not all the same.
 

lexrageorge

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Mazzulla admitted he made a mistake in Toronto by not calling the timeout. So probably will not see that sequence repeat itself.

I would have preferred that CJM had called timeout for the last possession against the Heat. But the argument against doing so makes sense when one considers the scoring options on the floor for the Celtics last night. Again, at least Joe was willing to share his thought process there. As for Tatum's pass, Grant was open in the corner for the potential winning shot, and if Tatum attempted a shot there or passed to a well defended White or TL, we would still be complaining about his decisions.

I could care less about the "stop the run" timeouts.
 

lovegtm

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Mazzulla's machismo about not calling timeouts to "let the players figure it out on the floor" has finally bit us in the ass good and hard.
...
They lost a game in January. No one on either side will remember this game a month from now. Calling a timeout might have changed the chance of winning there from 25% to 30%, idk.

Missing all shots for 10 minutes (partly due to being gassed) is the real story here.

I get that losing games sucks, but (for example) Milwaukee has lost a bunch like that this year, and no one here thinks it will mean anything in April/May if we face the Bucks and they're healthy.
 

InstaFace

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Moving from the game thread:

I agree with the criticism of the timeout usage. Referring to it as coaching malpractice or getting anything other than annoyed with it seems a lot extra given where we are in the calendar and how well the team has done overall.
For me, it's more about it being a preview of how Mazzulla will think when the chips are down. If he flips a switch and does a full Playoff Tito, like that old SNL Reagan mastermind sketch, OK fine. But the evidence we have before us at the moment is that he'll be paralyzed by the moment when something isn't working and we're giving up a long run, and I haven't seen a lot of creativity in ATO plays either. It's a valid concern.

Clearly he's been better at the long-term part of locker room management, getting everyone bought in and able to execute up and down the rotation. But sometimes, being a good clubhouse guy doesn't matter if you're too timid to pull Pedro when it's time to pull him.

And "given how well the team has done overall" is irrelevant. Claude Julien was handed a gold-plated roster too, for 10 years. And other than one magic run, he couldn't realize its potential, because the game moved too fast for him in some respects. The 2023 Celtics are a gold-plated roster, they'd win plenty of games even with you or me coaching out there. But we should be at least expecting, and maybe demanding, that our coaching not be making mental errors.
 

lexrageorge

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Moving from the game thread:


For me, it's more about it being a preview of how Mazzulla will think when the chips are down. If he flips a switch and does a full Playoff Tito, like that old SNL Reagan mastermind sketch, OK fine. But the evidence we have before us at the moment is that he'll be paralyzed by the moment when something isn't working and we're giving up a long run, and I haven't seen a lot of creativity in ATO plays either. It's a valid concern.
Except he wasn’t paralyzed by the moment. He made an active choice to prevent Miami from subbing. Maybe it was not our preferred decision, but there was a thought process behind it.
 

joe dokes

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Mazzulla's machismo about not calling timeouts to "let the players figure it out on the floor" has finally bit us in the ass good and hard.
Maybe it's questionable decision-making reflecting shortcomings as a coach. (although not letting Miami make subs seems like a valid reason to me). But "machismo"? seriously? Letting others figure it out is the opposite of "machismo."
 

HomeRunBaker

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Part of the issue on this play is that they didn't want Miami to be able to sub. Right or wrong, that was a motivation.

I don't think Mazzulla's decision not to call time excuses Tatum for throwing the ball away. Your best player should be able to not do that in any situation.

The issue with Mazzulla and timeouts is conflating a few different things. Timeouts to stop a run vs. timeouts to set up a play vs. timeouts because you have a guy down on the floor and your ballhandler is being blitzed and is about to turn it over. Not all the same.
I thought the decision not to call a TO on the final play was correct last night. We had the ball in Tatum’s hands which is what we wanted……the Heat were forced to keep Herro on the floor rather than being able to sub likely Robinson for him. Why would we call a TO to allow them to substitute their preferred personnel? A similar situation happened a week or two ago in a Laker/Sixers game when Westbrook had Embiid in iso 25-feet from the basket and after he lost his handle (and the game) everyone was killing Ham for not calling a timeout when they had the ideal matchup.

I don’t think this has anything to do with Mazzulla being misogynist.
 

teddykgb

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Except he wasn’t paralyzed by the moment. He made an active choice to prevent Miami from subbing. Maybe it was not our preferred decision, but there was a thought process behind it.
Even if that was the right choice, and in my opinion it wasn’t, he needed to call one when Tatum waved away the screen. Whatever “play” they were running was already dead and they needed to organize and run something quickly that would get a shot away. The double was cemented and Tatum was in a position that was easy to trap.
 

InstaFace

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Maybe it's questionable decision-making reflecting shortcomings as a coach. (although not letting Miami make subs seems like a valid reason to me). But "machismo"? seriously? Letting others figure it out is the opposite of "machismo."
He's been quoted as saying he's not calling TOs to, essentially, toughen the players up, and have them not think they can rely on a mental break to reset. "This'll learn ya!" is not exactly the motivating principle I'm looking for. If neither Belichick nor Terry Francona nor (in basketball) Popovich would take that approach, I find it hard to justify with some sort of coaching theory.

There are some variations on that theme that have some social proof and history behind them. For example, Geno Auriemma's general demeanor with his team is to focus on the negatives up until about February ("break them down"), and then focus on the team's strengths and positives from then through the NCAA tournament ("build them back up"). His players have been quoted as thinking they're the worst team in the country up until February each year, and after that being made to think they're the best team in the country. There's some method to that madness, especially given that the learning curve with college players is just very different than with seasoned pros.

And maybe I'm thick and don't know ball like the rest of you, but I just don't see the same method here, only madness dressed up as "toughening them up".
 

Fishy1

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He's been quoted as saying he's not calling TOs to, essentially, toughen the players up, and have them not think they can rely on a mental break to reset. "This'll learn ya!" is not exactly the motivating principle I'm looking for. If neither Belichick nor Terry Francona nor (in basketball) Popovich would take that approach, I find it hard to justify with some sort of coaching theory.

There are some variations on that theme that have some social proof and history behind them. For example, Geno Auriemma's general demeanor with his team is to focus on the negatives up until about February ("break them down"), and then focus on the team's strengths and positives from then through the NCAA tournament ("build them back up"). His players have been quoted as thinking they're the worst team in the country up until February each year, and after that being made to think they're the best team in the country. There's some method to that madness, especially given that the learning curve with college players is just very different than with seasoned pros.

And maybe I'm thick and don't know ball like the rest of you, but I just don't see the same method here, only madness dressed up as "toughening them up".
I think this is a mischaracterization, and an unfair one.

He has expressed a very specific desire to empower them by encouraging them to right the ship without his intervention - this is the opposite of machismo or an attempt to toughen them up. This is asking them to think on their feet while the ball is live, a skill most players struggle with and which is hard to practice.

This has the obvious intention - which I think you've neglected to mention - of preparing players to think on their feet in the specific situation in which there are no timeouts or no ability to call one, e.g. late in a playoff game when they are without timeouts or when they need to save one for later. The point is to learn from mistakes during the regular season so we don't have end-of-game disasters in the postseason like we did against the Heat last night. The players have endorsed this strategy, and have said it has them believing in themselves more than ever.

Instead, you've reductively attributed CJM's strategy to machismo, said he mrans to toughen players up, accusing him of madness and of some sort of cliche-driven coach-speak sportsball-motivation drivel - none of which can actually be attributed to him, but which is all your invention. I don't mean to be harsh, that's just what I see on the page.

I also hadn't considered HRBs reasoning last night when I denigrated the lack of timeout, but I think that makes eminent sense, too. Keeping Herro in could have led to anel easy buckets if we'd acted more quickly.

At the end of the day, I think last night was valuable for Tatum as a lesson. Use the screen, get into the action earlier, etc. The cost is one loss. They're still way up in the standings.

I know it's upsetting to lose a game in January, but the Celtics won't be overreacting and neither should we.
 
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lexrageorge

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He's been quoted as saying he's not calling TOs to, essentially, toughen the players up, and have them not think they can rely on a mental break to reset. "This'll learn ya!" is not exactly the motivating principle I'm looking for. If neither Belichick nor Terry Francona nor (in basketball) Popovich would take that approach, I find it hard to justify with some sort of coaching theory.

There are some variations on that theme that have some social proof and history behind them. For example, Geno Auriemma's general demeanor with his team is to focus on the negatives up until about February ("break them down"), and then focus on the team's strengths and positives from then through the NCAA tournament ("build them back up"). His players have been quoted as thinking they're the worst team in the country up until February each year, and after that being made to think they're the best team in the country. There's some method to that madness, especially given that the learning curve with college players is just very different than with seasoned pros.

And maybe I'm thick and don't know ball like the rest of you, but I just don't see the same method here, only madness dressed up as "toughening them up".
Do you have any statistical evidence that calling a timeout during an opponent's run leads to better outcomes than letting the players play through it? If not, your characterization is definitely twisting Mazzulla's words into your own narrative.

And the timeout situation at the end of the Miami game was a completely different situation and, as noted by Mazzulla himself and by @HomeRunBaker, had some actual matchup considerations behind it.
 

Kliq

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If they called a time out, they would have ran something to probably get Tatum with the ball in his hands at the top of the key, which is what they got by not calling the timeout. Tatum just made the wrong decision, not reacting to the double-quick enough and then throwing the bad pass. Tatum has gotten a lot better at quickly reading double teams and making the right pass, but he was lacking a bit in the fourth quarter last night and it doomed them. Obviously, it's more difficult without Brown who attracts attention on his own and is the most capable non-Tatum scorer in crunch time.
 

InstaFace

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Do you have any statistical evidence that calling a timeout during an opponent's run leads to better outcomes than letting the players play through it? If not, your characterization is definitely twisting Mazzulla's words into your own narrative.
I'm going to leave further back-and-forth on the narrative (and my armchair psychoanalysis) aside, and focus just on your question, since it's both interesting, valuable to understanding the game, and strikes me as answerable.

SI, May 2019: Lots of coaches go on record talking about the times they've let it ride, particularly at the very end of the game, and seen players execute and win. D'Antoni asserts: "There are no analytics that really proves that if you call a timeout, it stops the run of the other team," he says. "Actually, there's evidence that doesn't support that." Or some other prominent names:

While cutting his teeth as a coach in England, where he spent more than a decade leading a handful of clubs that no longer exist, Nurse would watch Phil Jackson's Bulls over and over and over. He absorbed how Jackson used to let his teams play through painful runs and course-correct on the fly. "I've got a little bit of that in my blood," Nurse says. "There are times when I think I should probably call one. Then I say, 'No, no, let 'em figure it out. Let 'em go through it.' I probably do that a little more than maybe I'd like to, to be honest."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr won three championships in five seasons on Jackson's Bulls; he subscribes to his former coach's strategy. "It's good for a team to get itself out of a ditch instead of relying on a timeout and grumbling at each other," he says. "Let's communicate, get all five guys [working] together and execute a play. And if they can do that on their own, it's very empowering."
...
Stevens led a team that's finished with the third-fewest timeouts this season and the second fewest in 2017-18. "If I had my druthers I would always choose to run against a defense that's not set, or execute with an action you feel like is great at that moment without calling a timeout," he says. "I would always prefer that."
Vice, Dec 2015:
Numbers support the idea that NBA coaches aren't dramatically affecting games with their ingenious timeout play-calling. An analysis of the play-by-play data compiled at NylonCalculus.com reveals that after-timeout plays (ATO) over the past six seasons average 0.836 points per play—notably less efficient than other half-court plays, which average about 0.885 points per play. This may be due to the fact that by definition ATO plays start from a dead ball, and dead-ball plays are the league's least efficient.

"After a timeout, you're always five-on-five against a set defense," said O'Koren. "Defensive coaching around the league is good, and while you have time to set your offensive play, the opponent has time to plan their defense."
So what about actual scientific approaches to the question?

Econ PhD Thesis on the subject, 2011: "This paper explores the claim that timeouts enhance short-term performance following a series of negative events". It covered a sample of ~3700 games from 2006-2009. Its conclusions: once you control for the fact that a team calling timeout after giving up a run starts the next possession with the ball, and for home-court advantage generally, there is a small positive effect of timeouts for momentum-stopping purposes, with teams scoring ~0.5 more out of the next 10 points scored than the similarly-situated teams who did not call timeout. However, there's also plenty of mean reversion: teams who give up runs tend to outscore their opponent following those runs anyway, rather than let it continue to snowball, as you would frankly expect with the results of possessions being fully stochastic.

arXiv paper July 2021: these guys conclude the opposite, or rather, have a stronger conclusion based on asking the question better. Using what seems like a better technique, they conclude that letting players play through it is more advantageous than calling a timeout.


Based on those, I think we can agree that me drawing a conclusion in the other direction was largely bullshit. Thanks for sending me in that direction.
 

Fishy1

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This is a fair post. I hope that ultimately you're right and I'm wrong - and I particularly hope that we see a different approach in the playoffs.
Thanks for reading me charitably! I'm interested myself to see if it works in the long run. It seems like a novel approach for sure.
 

chilidawg

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I'm going to leave further back-and-forth on the narrative (and my armchair psychoanalysis) aside, and focus just on your question, since it's both interesting, valuable to understanding the game, and strikes me as answerable.

SI, May 2019: Lots of coaches go on record talking about the times they've let it ride, particularly at the very end of the game, and seen players execute and win. D'Antoni asserts: "There are no analytics that really proves that if you call a timeout, it stops the run of the other team," he says. "Actually, there's evidence that doesn't support that." Or some other prominent names:



Vice, Dec 2015:


So what about actual scientific approaches to the question?

Econ PhD Thesis on the subject, 2011: "This paper explores the claim that timeouts enhance short-term performance following a series of negative events". It covered a sample of ~3700 games from 2006-2009. Its conclusions: once you control for the fact that a team calling timeout after giving up a run starts the next possession with the ball, and for home-court advantage generally, there is a small positive effect of timeouts for momentum-stopping purposes, with teams scoring ~0.5 more out of the next 10 points scored than the similarly-situated teams who did not call timeout. However, there's also plenty of mean reversion: teams who give up runs tend to outscore their opponent following those runs anyway, rather than let it continue to snowball, as you would frankly expect with the results of possessions being fully stochastic.

arXiv paper July 2021: these guys conclude the opposite, or rather, have a stronger conclusion based on asking the question better. Using what seems like a better technique, they conclude that letting players play through it is more advantageous than calling a timeout.


Based on those, I think we can agree that me drawing a conclusion in the other direction was largely bullshit. Thanks for sending me in that direction.
Great post.

One thing to keep in mind is that this team has struggled to close out games for several years now, notably in the playoffs last year. It lead to series going on longer than needed and a more fatigued team at the end. This has gone on through 3 coaches, all of whom seem to know what they are doing.
 

BigSoxFan

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Great post.

One thing to keep in mind is that this team has struggled to close out games for several years now, notably in the playoffs last year. It lead to series going on longer than needed and a more fatigued team at the end. This has gone on through 3 coaches, all of whom seem to know what they are doing.
Yup. This is more of a player issue for me. If Tatum wants to hoist a trophy, he needs to close better. I think Joe is giving him the rope to figure it out, even if the results haven’t been great lately. It’s the biggest concern I have for this team outside of general health.
 

lovegtm

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I really, really wonder how much of this year's perceived closing issues boil down to: "closing close games in the NBA is hard, you don't win them all, and the great regular season teams are usually great because they whomp the opposition and don't have many close games."

The Celtics have had plenty of good late wins this year, maybe even more than their fair share. If you're going to handwring after a B2B road loss, missing 4 of the top 7 guys, the NBA regular season just might not be the sport for you. (general statement; I'm not subtweeting anyone in particular)
 

HomeRunBaker

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Great post.

One thing to keep in mind is that this team has struggled to close out games for several years now, notably in the playoffs last year. It lead to series going on longer than needed and a more fatigued team at the end. This has gone on through 3 coaches, all of whom seem to know what they are doing.
I think it’s important to recognize that most teams struggle to close out games……bc closing out NBA games against end of game defense is really freakin hard.
 

Leon Trotsky

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I think it’s important to recognize that most teams struggle to close out games……bc closing out NBA games against end of game defense is really freakin hard.
Yes, if anything, I think Tatum is now trying to do the right thing, trust his teammates, and not force hero ball at the end. He has been successful at it lately, but last night just didn't make the right read at the end with the pass. He used to just go 1-on-3 or -4 and have some ridiculously impossible shot. Seems to be growing, to me.
 

shoelace

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If you're going to handwring after a B2B road loss, missing 4 of the top 7 guys, the NBA regular season just might not be the sport for you. (general statement; I'm not subtweeting anyone in particular)
These people just need to look at this Twitter account regularly: https://mobile.twitter.com/notjustyourteam

I think part of the issue is that most Celtics fans, and most NBA fans in general, just pay attention to their own team and end up creating dumb narratives about their teams (the Mazzulla timeout thing is talk radio slop for hogs who think they're smarter than an NBA coach, for instance). These fans aren't really looking at the rest of the league. Every team in the league blows late/2nd half leads, it's documented by the account above. It's especially silly to get upset about it when you're missing the majority of your rotation on the 2nd night of a back-to-back on the road. That makes it seem like some people go in with the expectation that the Celtics should win every regular season game, regardless of any context, and if they don't, it proves that they're mentally weak or the coach is stupid.
 

BigSoxFan

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These people just need to look at this Twitter account regularly: https://mobile.twitter.com/notjustyourteam

I think part of the issue is that most Celtics fans, and most NBA fans in general, just pay attention to their own team and end up creating dumb narratives about their teams (the Mazzulla timeout thing is talk radio slop for hogs who think they're smarter than an NBA coach, for instance). These fans aren't really looking at the rest of the league. Every team in the league blows late/2nd half leads, it's documented by the account above. It's especially silly to get upset about it when you're missing the majority of your rotation on the 2nd night of a back-to-back on the road. That makes it seem like some people go in with the expectation that the Celtics should win every regular season game, regardless of any context, and if they don't, it proves that they're mentally weak or the coach is stupid.
Many Celtics fans are operating with a “championship or bust” mentality and I think we’re hypersensitive to any perceived issues. This franchise has been so incredibly close the last 5 years and I think that plays into the angst. Clearly, this is a very good team that should have a great shot of winning it all, if health persists.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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These people just need to look at this Twitter account regularly: https://mobile.twitter.com/notjustyourteam

I think part of the issue is that most Celtics fans, and most NBA fans in general, just pay attention to their own team and end up creating dumb narratives about their teams (the Mazzulla timeout thing is talk radio slop for hogs who think they're smarter than an NBA coach, for instance). These fans aren't really looking at the rest of the league. Every team in the league blows late/2nd half leads, it's documented by the account above. It's especially silly to get upset about it when you're missing the majority of your rotation on the 2nd night of a back-to-back on the road. That makes it seem like some people go in with the expectation that the Celtics should win every regular season game, regardless of any context, and if they don't, it proves that they're mentally weak or the coach is stupid.
Its not just that some people appear to expect an undefeated season. It extends to in game execution where anything less than perfection and aesthetically pleasing basketball results in heavy complaints. Meanwhile, to your point, this season the Cs are better than most other teams at this stuff though you wouldn't know it from the narratives.

In my experience, these affairs are messy and winning or losing ugly is essentially winning or losing.

I would love to watch an NBA game where only the right players take shots (in this universe Marcus Smart would never shoot, even if wide open), those players shoot a perfect 100% from the field, leads are routinely held once established and every decision that team's coach made is perfect. I have yet to see anything even close to that sort of performance and am not waiting around for it.
 

bankshot1

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Speaking for myself the Celts were not closing out a game last night. The Heat were. And they did.

The Celts might have closed out the game if they did not go some 6 minutes without scoring a single point while losing a 10 point lead.

If you fellows are going to play the context card, play the right one.

As for malpractice, It was a game thread, real time and hyperbole is generally the rule.

The game was largely irrelevant, due to the Celts MIAs, but I expected a better coaching job for a team that because of manpower shortage and B2B, could use whatever sideline help it could get and IMO the team got short-changed last night.

YMMV

Happy motoring and GO CELTS
 

The Mort Report

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I think people are forgetting that all summer up until, what, 3 days before training camp opened Joe was prepping to be an assistant. Now I don’t know what his duties were prior, but I’m sure it was completely different than what a HC preps for. Ime had all summer to prep and he still struggled in the first half. Obviously everyone’s learning curve is different, but he’s figuring this out on the fly. I’m in the camp of being ok with sacrificing a few regular season games with the idea of hopefully toughen them up mentality a bit by not calling a TO. I’m sure there are also still times in the flow of the game he’s watching like he’s an assistant. He’s still very much figuring out how to be a HC in the NBA
 

lexrageorge

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I'm going to leave further back-and-forth on the narrative (and my armchair psychoanalysis) aside, and focus just on your question, since it's both interesting, valuable to understanding the game, and strikes me as answerable.

SI, May 2019: Lots of coaches go on record talking about the times they've let it ride, particularly at the very end of the game, and seen players execute and win. D'Antoni asserts: "There are no analytics that really proves that if you call a timeout, it stops the run of the other team," he says. "Actually, there's evidence that doesn't support that." Or some other prominent names:



Vice, Dec 2015:


So what about actual scientific approaches to the question?

Econ PhD Thesis on the subject, 2011: "This paper explores the claim that timeouts enhance short-term performance following a series of negative events". It covered a sample of ~3700 games from 2006-2009. Its conclusions: once you control for the fact that a team calling timeout after giving up a run starts the next possession with the ball, and for home-court advantage generally, there is a small positive effect of timeouts for momentum-stopping purposes, with teams scoring ~0.5 more out of the next 10 points scored than the similarly-situated teams who did not call timeout. However, there's also plenty of mean reversion: teams who give up runs tend to outscore their opponent following those runs anyway, rather than let it continue to snowball, as you would frankly expect with the results of possessions being fully stochastic.

arXiv paper July 2021: these guys conclude the opposite, or rather, have a stronger conclusion based on asking the question better. Using what seems like a better technique, they conclude that letting players play through it is more advantageous than calling a timeout.


Based on those, I think we can agree that me drawing a conclusion in the other direction was largely bullshit. Thanks for sending me in that direction.
Thanks for all this, wow!! Excellent data!

I really, really wonder how much of this year's perceived closing issues boil down to: "closing close games in the NBA is hard, you don't win them all, and the great regular season teams are usually great because they whomp the opposition and don't have many close games."

The Celtics have had plenty of good late wins this year, maybe even more than their fair share. If you're going to handwring after a B2B road loss, missing 4 of the top 7 guys, the NBA regular season just might not be the sport for you. (general statement; I'm not subtweeting anyone in particular)
I think it’s important to recognize that most teams struggle to close out games……bc closing out NBA games against end of game defense is really freakin hard.
I am wondering for games that are within 2 possessions (6 points) with 2 minutes remaining, what are the relative impacts of the following in the eventual outcome:

1.) Team with the lead
2.) Team with the ball at 2:00
3.) Final won-loss records of the teams
4.) Which team has the greatest number of All-NBA players on the court

Unable to do the research myself, but I'm wondering if anything similar has been investigated previously
 

Five Cent Head

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I got curious about the Celtics use of timeouts in close games, so I looked up what they did this season. I don't think there is any reluctance to call TOs in close games, whereas there is the stated reluctance to call them when the other team is on a run, say in the middle of the 3rd quarter.

Here are the games that were close enough to be on the two minute report, and in each game I only looked at the last minute of the 4th quarter and overtime. This only lists Boston timeouts, not those by their opponents. I didn't check to see how many TOs they had left in each situation. This also is relying on the NBA play-by-play, which seems to not always be correct, at least judging by the Bos-Cle game on 11/2, which shows the score as 105-102 at the end of regulation, when it was actually 107-107.

Miami 1/24: we know about this one

Toronto 1/21: Score is 106-104 for the entire final minute. Celtics took a timeout with 3.8 seconds left, up by 2

GSW 1/19 regulation: did not call TO down 3 with 28 seconds left, JB tied it with a 3. Get the ball back, TO tied with 0.5 sec left
overtime: TO (to challenge the Horford foul on Wiggins) up 8 with 37.2 seconds left

Chicago 1/9: no TO in the last minute, Boston up by 2, then by 5, then by 7, then by 8

SAS 1/7: tie game, TO with 37.4 seconds left. Boston goes up 2, gets the ball back and calls TO with 5.8 seconds left. Boston wins by 5.

LAC 12/29: Boston up by at least 3 the entire last minute, called no TOs.

Orl 12/18: Boston down by 1 with 56.2 seconds left. Call TO with same score, 9.8 seconds left. Down 3, call TO with 5.3 seconds left.

LAL 12/13 regulation: Boston down 5, cut it to 2 with 45.8 seconds, get the ball back with 25.9 seconds, no TO, Tatum ties it.
overtime: Boston is ahead by at least 4 for the entire last minute, no TOs

Mia 12/2 regulation: Boston down 1 with a minute left, then down 3: TO with 36.5 seconds left. Get within 1, then down 3 again: TO with 5.1 seconds left. JB ties it.
overtime: tied with a minute left, then Boston down 2 with 40 seconds, then down 4 with 9.6 seconds: TO.

OKC 11/14: Boston ahead by at least 3 for the last minute. Called TO up 3 with 5.9 seconds left.

Mem 11/7: Boston ahead for the last minute, although it got within one point. Called no TOs.

Chi 11/4: Boston ahead by at least 2 for the last minute. Called no TOs.

Cle 11/2 regulation: TO down 2, 10.3 seconds left.
overtime: TO down 1, 2.3 seconds left

Cle 10/28 regulation: TO down 1 with 1:10 left, took no TOs after that.
overtime: Boston down by at least for the last minute, called no TOs.