Joe Mazzulla praises even-keeled Celtics locker room during losses


“It’s impossible to ignore the noise, but it’s more about where our team and our locker room keeps its focus.”

Joe Mazzulla wants the Celtics to block out the noise from this week and stay focused on their internal growth. (Danielle Parhizkaran/Globe Staff)

It’s difficult to call a two-game losing streak during an 82-game season a “slump,” but given the dominance of the 2023-24 Celtics, that’s exactly what this week feels like.

Boston dropped back-to-back games against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday and Thursday. The former was a two-point loss in a game the Celtics led by as many as 30 points, and the latter was another heartbreaker in overtime.

The fashion of those losses stirred up the first bit of real vocal disappointment the Boston fanbase has shown for its team all season. Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla is hoping to keep the locker room even-keeled through this semi-rocky stretch.

“It’s impossible to ignore the noise, but it’s more about where our team and our locker room keeps its focus,” Mazzulla said ahead of Saturday’s game. “You can have a bunch of negativity around you, but I think one of the biggest strengths of this team is regardless of results or circumstances the guys have stayed connected.”

There’s certainly no reason to panic within the locker room in Boston. The Celtics still boast the league’s best record — and it’s not particularly close. They have the best net rating (11.7) which is significantly higher than the second-place Oklahoma City Thunder (7.3). They also have the top offensive rating in the NBA (122.5) and are tied for second in defensive rating (110.8).

Tough outcomes don’t take anything away from the overall sustained success Boston’s seen this season.

“It’s not even like you have to stay positive, you just have to stay true,” Mazzulla said. “That’s the most important thing. You can’t fake positivity … this team has done a great job keeping its poise, keeping its connectivity.”

Of course, the cure-all to both a rough stretch and negativity surrounding it is a win. The Celtics will be searching for one on Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans. But, even if they don’t get it — and suffer their first three-game losing streak of the season — Mazzulla won’t be concerned.

“I don’t want a win just so we can feel good about ourselves. I don’t think that’s how you grow,” Mazzulla said. “We’re not asking for that. The real growth comes into, can we continue to be who we are, regardless of the result, knowing that we can get better and better.”

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