The Celtics Intentionally Fouled Andre Drummond While Up 32 Points – Billy Donovan Was Angry
As you may know, the NBA used point differential during group play as a tie-breaker to advance to the knockout phase of the In-Season Tournament.
This has led to some interesting scenarios in these past week, with one of the most interesting situations coming during last night’s In-Season Tournament Game between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.
Leading by 32 points with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, head coach Joe Mazzulla instructed his players to intentionally foul Andre Drummond.
Before the game, Mazzulla said that point differential would not have an impact on how he would coach his team, however, he definitely changed his mind come game time. The Hack’a’Drummond tactic while up 32 had Bulls head coach Billy Donovan visibly upset, leading to him approaching Mazzulla on the sidelines.
Mazzulla then explained why he chose to send Drummond, who missed both free throws, to the line. The Celtics needed to win by 23 to have a chance to advance, due to the Nets beating the Raptors and therefore creating a 3-way tie between the top 3 teams in the group (Celtics beat Nets, Magic beat Celtics, Nets beat Magic).
The Celtics’ plan turned out to be successful, as they advanced to the final eight:
Celtics: 3-1 (+27 Point Differential)
Magic: 3-1 (+22)
Nets: 3-1 (+20)
Celtics were intentionally fouling Andre Drummond while up 32 POINTS with 7:02 in the 4Q
Joe Mazzulla had to explain to Billy Donovan they needed to win by 23 to have a chance to advance pic.twitter.com/4rEoWvHfus
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 29, 2023
After the game, Mazzulla revealed why he opted to Hack-A-Drummond, and what he told Billy Donovan.
“We had a guy on our staff sitting near the bench. I told him don’t talk to me until we’re at the point where it’s necessary. So once it got to 30 at the start of the fourth, we started communicating on what the Brooklyn game was going and what the defecit was. So when I started the Hack-A-Drummond, Billy thought we had to win by 22 but he didn’t know the ramifications of what was going on in the Brooklyn-Toronto game. So I had to explain to him this is what our people are telling us, this is what we have to do, this is the process to protecting our lead. This gives us the best chance to win and advance.”
“I had to explain to him, this is what our people are telling us, this is what we have to do… gives us the best chance to advance.”
Joe Mazzulla on conversation he had with Bulls HC Billy Donovan pic.twitter.com/nx6WBPB5P5
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 29, 2023