Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla loves the 2010 Ben Affleck film “The Town.” He watches it four times a week. He wears a sweatshirt with a quote from “The Town” after games - “Whose car we gonna take?”
But down 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals to the 8-seeded Miami Heat, Mazzulla needs a dramatic change. To his DVD collection. “The Town” may have wonderful dialogue about unflinching loyalty to your friends and co-workers - they call bank heists “jobs”, so yes, they’re co-workers - but the overarching message is that that’s actually toxic.
In the actual “Whose car we taking? scene, Jeremy Renner goes with Ben Affleck to beat up some guys, and then takes it too far and ends up shooting one of them in the leg. It’s a scene about blind loyalty, but also about a lack of discipline and misplaced aggression. Like, say, Grant Williams deciding to go forehead-to-forehead with Jimmy Butler and spurring the Heat to a game-changing run.
Jimmy Butler and Grant Williams getting in each other's faces pic.twitter.com/LdME6wCNOb— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) May 20, 2023
Clearly Mazzulla needs a new Boston movie to prepare for Game 4. Let’s look at some candidates.
The Shawshank Redemption
“Shawshank” is Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s favorite movie, a life-affirming film about a man succeeding against all odds to escape from prison. The movie is set in New England, there’s an important character named “Red,” and there’s a lot of violent guards - just like Marcus Smart! The problem is that there’s a guy named Brooks who commits suicide, and if we’re talking about career suicide, then that’s really more of a Memphis Grizzlies movie.
Another Boston classic, this one features a battle between police officer Matt Damon, who is a secret mob guy, and mob guy Leonardo DiCaprio, who is an undercover cop. We’re not sure there’s any double agents involved in this series, though we wouldn’t put it past Pat Riley to groom a basketball spy for years to undermine the Celtics organization. There’s a good lesson for the Celtics about fighting through adversity and identifying whether or not Blake Griffin is secretly a rat.
The problem? “Departed” star Mark Wahlberg is close friends with Heat star Jimmy Butler. Mazzulla watching “The Departed” would play into Playoff Jimmy’s hands.
Mazzulla could watch Sean Penn’s Oscar-winning performance in order to channel the appropriate emotion to fire up his team for Game 4. Imagine him screaming “Is that my defense in there?!?” as Luke Kornet and Payton Pritchard try to hold him back. Also, the way a big group of cops tries to hold back the despondent Penn is possibly the only way to stop Butler.
The Boondock Saints
This cult classic about vigilante twins fighting the Russian mob in Boston was made by Troy Duffy, a young bartender-turned-screenwriter who was an overnight success with his screenplay for “Boondock Saints.” Duffy secured nearly half a million dollars for his script, a $15 million budget, and convinced Miramax to let his band do the soundtrack and buy him the bar where he worked.
But it all fell apart, with Miramax pulling out due to Duffy’s abrasive behavior, casting and locations problems. His band’s debut CD sells only 690 copies. What were saying is, for another young overnight coaching success, Mazzulla may also be headed for a fall. But “Boondock Saints” did become a cult classic later. Perhaps the game film of Game 3 will later become a camp classic, like “The Room”.
Good Will Hunting
Another classic Boston/Ben Affleck film, where boy genius Matt Damon has a much more uplifting ending. Unfortunately, the happy ending comes by him getting the hell out of Boston, something that might be a relief for Mazzulla after the season. Also, one of the key scenes in the movie is how the best decision Robin Williams ever made was ditching out on Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. That’s right: He didn’t show up for an elimination game. After his team did just that in Game 3, it might send the wrong message.
You like apples? Well you’re about to get swept by the eight seed. How do you like them apples?
The Social Network
The Celtics have had trouble staying connected on defense, so why not a film about the world’s largest social media network? It’s about ruthlessly pursuing success and yelling at the officials, like when Mark Zuckerberg gives his deposition. There’s even a set of villainous, the Winklevoss brothers, which could motivate the team to finally shut down NBA twin Caleb Martin. And Grant Williams likes to “poke” the bear with Jimmy Butler, after all.
Of course, the team could take the wrong lesson, about succeeding while backstabbing your friends, or the wisdom of associating with Armie Hammer. There’s also a possibility a charismatic entrepreneur will tell the Celtics, “Giving up a million points in Game 3 isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Giving up a billion points.”
Manchester by the Sea
This is the one for Mazzulla, because it’s about dealing with a devastating loss. Perhaps Mazzulla can relate to Casey Affleck’s character after the Celtics season burns to the ground in Game 4.
Side note: Steph Curry’s favorite film is the tear-jerking romance “A Walk to Remember,” because of course it is.