Have we overrated Celtics’ Head Coach Brad Stevens?
Brad Stevens is extremely bright and likable and certainly has done an excellent job developing young players. The Celtics have generally performed up to expectations in the regular. However, in the postseason, they have underachieved.
Losing to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the 2015 & 2017 playoffs is nothing to be ashamed of. In those two series, the Cavs won 8-of-9 games.
In 2018 the Celtics led Cleveland 2-0 & 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals. In game 7, played at TD Garden, the Celtics offense disappeared in the final 18 minutes of an 86-79 loss.
In 2016, in what appeared to be a flip of coin series, the Celtics lost in the first round to the Atlanta Hawks in six games. Last year the Celtics were overpowered by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round, losing in five games.
This year, Boston swept the underachieving 76ers in round one before outlasting the Raptors in seven games. In that second round battle, the Celtics struggled to close out Toronto after winning the first two games.
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Now, against the extremely well-coached Heat, the Celtics are down 0-2 despite leading game one by 14 in the 4th quarter and game two by 17 late in the second quarter. If the Celtics were a baseball team, their bullpen would be their Achilles heel.
In his seven seasons, Stevens has been elevated into the short discussion of the best coaches in the NBA. While I love his basketball acumen and steady temperament, you have to question if Stevens is that coach who can get you to the threshold but not over it.
Stevens has won seven series in his NBA career. The opposing coaches he beat are Fred Hoiberg, Scott Brooks, Joe Prunty, Nate McMillan, Nick Nurse, and Bret Brown (twice). Only Nurse is an elite coach and he had the inferior roster.
In five series losses he faced, David Blatt, Mike Buddenholzer (twice), and Ty Lue (twice). And now Stevens is being outcoached by Eric Spoelstra.
In the two losses against the Heat the Celtics’ offense has bogged down in the second half. Too much iso ball, not enough movement and passing. Either this was by design or his players aren’t listening to Stevens.
In either case, not good.
The Celtics are wasting a real opportunity to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in 10 years. Next year, Kevin Durant snd Kyrie Irving will make the Nets instant contenders. Toronto will retool. The 76ers will have a new coach and the Heat are an attractive place for potential free-agents.
Is Stevens overrated? Yes. Is he still a very good coach? Yes. Both can be and are true.
John Sapochetti is co-host of The GET OFF MY LAWN PODCAST WITH KEEGAN &
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