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How Manchester City Coach Pep Guardiola Advised Celtics’ Joe Mazzulla On NBA Finals Tactics


While it’s not unheard of for a coach to seek advice from another, it’s uncommon to see one doing so in a completely different sport.

Yet, that’s exactly what the Celtics’ coach did, and it would be fair to say that the decision paid off.

Joe Mazzulla sought Pep Guardiola‘s counsel. By now, you know that the Boston Celtics are the 2024 NBA champions. Following a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in the best-of-seven NBA Finals, the Celtics clinched their 18th title, becoming the winningest franchise in NBA Finals history with sole possession of the title – previously tied at 17 with the Los Angeles Lakers. Notably, for a team steeped in success, this was their first title since 2008, marking a long-awaited triumph.

What’s truly worth noting is how the Celtics achieved their victory. Despite the series score, the Mavericks were formidable opponents across all five games. So, what made the difference? According to reports, the Celtics may have found a key strategy from another sport entirely. It’s now understood that Boston’s head coach, Joe Mazzulla, spent time with Pep Guardiola, the head coach of English Premier League champions Manchester City FC.

Mazzulla explained that it was about handling the defense of the Dallas Mavericks, which is considered one of the most formidable in the NBA. Following the team’s historic win in Game 5, Mazzulla credited Guardiola, stating that the former FC Barcelona coach assisted him with the Celtics’ transition game. “Dallas has one of the smartest defenses,” Mazzulla said. “We had to be creative to counter them. Pep [Guardiola] helped me with transitions and how to move guys.”

Guardiola was seen courtside for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, wearing a Celtics t-shirt. Ultimately, while such a crossover is uncommon, it may be food for thought for the future as it clearly worked.

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