Earlier this week, information broke about Indiana firing head coach Archie Miller. Over the subsequent 48-72 hours, social media was abuzz with the notion that Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens may very well be eager about swapping the NBA for his residence state school.
Followers and media alike have been intrigued on the place Stevens stood on this topic, speculating what it may imply for the Celtics within the quick and long run. It didn’t take lengthy for Brad Stevens to quash the rumors, as he dedicated his future to the Celtics to a reside radio viewers.
Right here’s the humorous factor: this is similar Brad Stevens who’s taking the brunt of the blame for the Celtics 20-20 file and the identical Brad Stevens who guided the Celtics to a few convention finals within the final 4 years and the identical Brad Stevens who has developed all the celebs we presently adore on the crew.
Oh, how quick our reminiscences are and the way fickle we’re in our help.
Two years in the past, Stevens was a deity, a basketball god whose knowledge knew no bounds. Right here was a person who took journeyman veterans and revitalized their careers. Jordan Crawford grew to become a Participant of the Week, Evan Turner received paid by Portland, Isaiah Thomas went from benchwarmer to MVP candidate – they usually all did so underneath Stevens tutelage.
Alongside his skill to breathe life into outdated canines, the Celtics coach instilled a model of basketball that resonated with Celtics followers all over the place. A bullish, in-your-face, never-say-die, high-octane basketball philosophy spoke to Celtics followers each close to and much, charming the underdog mentality in all of us.
Then the cracks began to indicate.
An ill-fated season that noticed Kyrie Irving and Al Horford all depart in a single summer time had individuals questioning Stevens’ skill to deal with star personalities. It’s one factor to conjure miracles however one other to harness lightning. Can a crew with a number of stars win all of it if their coach can’t handle their egos?
But, regardless of the exodus of 2019, the Celtics nonetheless clawed their solution to the 2020 Jap Convention Finals earlier than in the end falling quick towards a Miami Warmth crew many anticipated Boston to dominate.
When the Celtics have been successful video games, what did we hear about Stevens? Crickets. The second they misplaced the sequence, we returned to the “hearth Brad” narrative that’s so rife inside the Celtics social media ecosystem. There was zero compassion for the size of time the Celtics had resided within the bubble or their roster being hindered as a consequence of damage for the umpteenth time. Nope, it was merely Stevens’ fault and his fault alone.
There could also be some justified handwringing over Stevens’ use of timeouts when the crew is struggling and his rotations can generally be questionable at greatest – however right here’s a younger coach that’s studying and adjusting with each completely different season.
Keep in mind, Stevens’ has solely missed the playoffs in his inaugural season. Think about that the Indiana native additionally boasts a 338-266 common season file and is already fourth all-time in regular-season wins for the franchise. And within the playoffs? Nicely, Stevens’ is sitting fifth all-time amongst Celtics coaches with a 37-36 file. All of this whereas teaching arguably three roster iterations during the last eight years.
When the Celtics have been a vibrant attacking crew, we noticed them run an modern offensive scheme, embracing the three-point revolution with intelligent ATO calls and transition offense that merely purred. This yr has been completely different, although. The Celtics don’t presently boast many athletic gamers to make the most of transition basketball, and their present crop of bench guys are restricted from a technical facet.
As such, we see a secular offense affected by slow-paced pick-and-roll play and a restricted quantity of ball motion. Does this imply that Stevens has miraculously forgotten the best way to coach? Or is it merely as a consequence of a restricted quantity of expertise at his disposal?
Not do the Celtics have veterans like an Aron Baynes, Marcus Morris, and even Kelly Olynyk coming off the bench. As an alternative, they’re counting on a Semi Ojeleye or Jeff Teague to get issues accomplished – fairly the drop-off, if we’re being sincere.
You may solely work with the instruments at your disposal, and when these instruments are blunt, it’s typically going to be a tough slog to get a completed product (or one thing shut).
So, the place does this distaste for Stevens stem? Is it his calmness? A perceived lack of persona? Or, maybe he’s not seen as an authoritarian as a result of he’s not appearing a idiot on the sidelines after each play, as we see with Nick Nurse. Or a fast wit with the media, throwing verbal slap downs as we do with Greg Popovich.
The logical reply is a mix of all of those, sprinkled with nuanced gripes to permit for private opinion. But, weren’t all of us taught that “it’s the quiet ones it’s important to watch” in class? What makes us suppose that Stevens isn’t tearing into this squad within the locker room? However that doesn’t match the narrative, proper?
What suits is that Boston is a hard-nosed metropolis, constructed on successful in any respect prices. A city the place shrinking violets are trampled, and solely the tough and prepared thrive. A sports activities metropolis so enshrined in championships that something however a banner is a failure – nevermind the overachievement that received you inside shouting distance of Banner 18. Sadly, the league is unforgiving, and the expertise stage is ever rising, so successful has been briefly provide for the devoted.
And can we actually imagine that Stevens has misplaced the locker room? As a result of gamers are strolling the courtroom when their coach is yelling to push? Or are the gamers merely exhausted from a grueling truncated season that enables little time for recuperation earlier than boarding a flight midway throughout the nation?
Positive, Stevens has clearly been preaching ball motion, and the ball hasn’t been transferring a lot. That doesn’t imply the gamers aren’t listening, however relatively, there are restricted choices that may genuinely make an affect with the rock of their arms. I get it, there have been video games the place the Celtics have regarded sluggish and off the tempo – Cleveland was a kind of video games. But, we see the crew battle on each ends of the ground as a rule – you don’t try this if you would like the coach out of city – you mail it in.
Lastly, ask your self this, what coach, NBA or in any other case who is offered, would come to Boston and do a greater job than what Stevens is doing? Not simply orchestrating units or being animated on the sideline – however in creating a crew ethos, structuring younger gamers’ workloads, and implementing a model of basketball that encourages each particular person and collective progress.
That’s a mighty quick checklist, all of whom presently occupy different NBA teaching jobs or some little-known gem teaching in a basement someplace outdoors Idaho.
Sadly, the Celtics aren’t ok as presently constructed to keep away from any additional blips this season – the rollercoaster is inevitable. As such, we’re going to maintain seeing Stevens get blasted throughout each medium identified to humankind. This Stevens-to-IU rumor may very well be simply one other loop-de-loop on this journey, however till we hear from Stevens himself, let’s admire what he’s accomplished for the franchise and help what he’ll do going ahead, whatever the consequence.