Ask Coach Joe Mazzulla if the Boston Celtics’ nine-day layoff before the NBA Finals will benefit his team, and he turns from coach to philosopher.

“Anything can be good or bad for you, depending on how you use it,” Mazzulla said Thursday at the team’s practice facility. “Time can be good, it can be bad. Everything just goes into how you use it, how you weaponize it. So we’re weaponizing our time right now, and that’s it.”

To that end, the Celtics are planning to hold practices Friday and Saturday, before back-to-back off days lead them into another practice on Tuesday. That practice will run roughly 48 hours before the tip-off of Game 1 against Dallas.

In the coming days, Mazzulla said the Celtics will continue to practice their situational execution. He indicated the team’s practice plan will not differ drastically from how they have prepared all season, and that their 12-2 run through the playoffs is proof of a winning formula.

“I think we just played with the understanding that even though we’re a good team, we have to be the harder playing team. So I think that’s important,” Mazzulla said. “I felt like we weren’t distracted by anything other than the things that impact winning; all the details and margins, things that we always talk about, (in the) regular season and the playoffs are the same. And it’s no different heading into the Finals.”

The Celtics will meet Dallas in the Finals with Game 1 at 8:30 p.m. on June 6 at TD Garden. If Boston protects home court, Mazzulla already seems to have a good sense of why they’ll have won.


“At the end of the day, the margins will be the reason why you win; the harder playing team, all the small details that go in,” he said. “So I felt like we valued that (in the playoffs). I felt like we were great defensively when we needed to be, and we just want to stick together and make winning plays. So (we’re) gonna fight to keep that.”

PORZINGIS UPDATE: Boston will also continue to await the return of injured center Kristaps Porzingis, who visited the facility Thursday for ongoing rehab and treatment. Mazzulla did not offer a firm update on his status, except to say Porzingis hasn’t endured a setback and is improving every day.

Without Porzingis, the Celtics completed their Eastern Conference Finals sweep of the Pacers on Monday with a comeback win in Game 4. During that series, Boston won three tight games, mollifying concerns about their play in clutch moments. Part of their success, Mazzulla said, stemmed from situational understanding and sharpened focus.

“In the late game, as you saw, (it was) our attention to detail defensively, a level of poise and then heightened awareness to execution, which is the most important thing,” he said. “And at the end of the day, you’ve got to make plays. And so our guys made the necessary plays to win on both ends of the floor.”

Porzingis has missed 11 consecutive games for the Celtics since suffering the calf strain on April 29 against the Heat. Porzingis will have a full week to progress with his rehab ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

“I haven’t seen him doing what he’s doing specifically,” Mazzulla said. “But I know he’s getting better each day, I know he’s working hard. So I’ll get more when I go downstairs when he comes in today, but he’s progressing well and he’s working really hard to get back.”

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