Celtics hacked Andre Drummond while up big, and Billy Donovan had words for Joe Mazzula | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

Jayson Tatum lamented the rules for the inaugural NBA in-season tournament earlier this week that incentivized teams to win by as many points as possible because the tie-breakers were determined by point differential. On Tuesday, Tatum and his Boston Celtics found themselves in the rare position of needing to run up the score during a blowout so they could qualify for the next round of the tournament. Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan wasn’t happy about it.

The Celtics beat the Bulls, 124-97, in a game that featured a bizarre fourth quarter sequence where Boston tried to extend their lead while already up more than 30 points. The Celtics didn’t just leave their starters in big minutes during a blowout — no, they resorted to intentionally fouling Bulls backup center Andre Drummond to get stops and continue the rout.

Boston knew it had to win by at least 23 points against Chicago to win a tie-breaker for Group C of the in-season tournament over the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets. With his team up 32 points in the fourth, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzula called for his team to start fouling Drummond. Donovan approached Mazzula at halfcourt to discuss the tactic, but it didn’t stop Boston from doing it again. Watch the sequence play out here:

Here’s an extended look at the Celtics fouling Drummond on purpose, and Donovan and Mazzula talking it out:

The Celtics, with a 27-point victory, advanced to the next phase of the in-season tournament. Boston will face the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 4, with the winner playing the winner of the New York Knicks vs. the Milwaukee Bucks.

Donovan talked about why he approached Mazzula after the game. The Bulls coach said he understood why the Celtics were running up the score, but he felt like the tactic was embarassing to Drummond. Mazzula apologized to Donovan after the game, and then sought out Drummond to apologize to him. Here his comments, via NBC Sports Chicago:

“Andre is a veteran guy. And I told (Mazzulla): ‘What are we doing here?’” Donovan said. “I get it on keeping your guys in, wanting to get in (the quarterfinals). The league has made it a big deal. But for me, it was just the fouling. And Joe was great when I talked to him.”

“They’re trying to get to Vegas. It’s just a tough situation. He has to coach his team and do what he feels is right,” Donovan said. “Play (the starters) all the way to the end. I got no problem with that. But I just thought it was putting Andre in a tough spot in a 30-point game. I didn’t like that.

Celtics star Jaylen Brown criticized the in-season tournament rules after the game for being disrespectful to opponents. “That’s not how the game is supposed to be played,” Brown said.

Donovan also had thoughts on the tournament tie-breakers:

“This is what the league has done with the point differential. And I feel bad for them from this standpoint: God forbid in a game like that (someone gets hurt). When you’re up 30 and there’s 5 minutes to go in the game and you have all your main guys in there and potentially someone gets hurt over the In-Season Tournament because of points? Man. But I understand the league has made a big deal of it. Everybody is trying to take it serious.”

The Celtics weren’t the only team running up the score on their opponent during the last night of group play. The Knicks and Cavaliers were also incentivized to win big. New York’s +42 margin of victory pushed them onto the next phase of the tournament over Cleveland, who only had a +29 margin.

Regardless of how you feel about the in-season tournament or its tie-breakers, it certainly created some interesting basketball during an otherwise bland regular season night at the end of Nov.

Will the NBA change the in-season tournament tie-breakers next year? They probably should. For now, though, the tournament feels like a fun addition to the regular season, even if it’s creating new controversies.

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