It is no secret that the Celtics have had a funky season. They have gone from winning multiple games in a row to then immediately falling into a losing streak multiple times this season. So, we know this team has extreme talent, but why can’t they just piece it all together? Should the majority of the blame for this up and down season fall on the shoulders of Brad Stevens?
The answer is yes. As of right now, Brad does not have a grasp of the egos in the locker room. Now this is not to say he never will. It is just new to him. However, that is still an issue. It is still a problem, even if it may go away in the future. The head coach must take that responsibility, regardless of timing. In all honestly, he probably will figure that portion out. But we are talking about the here and now.
Brad Stevens, currently, is like a great football offensive coordinator. He has all the great schemes and game plans. However, to his fault, he only seems to know those schemes and he only sticks to those game plans. He isn’t a total leader like the head coach must be. We have not seen an adaptive Brad Stevens yet.
Everyone seems to think what he did last year with an injured roster was adaptive. When in fact, that was and still is his natural habitat. Having to scheme and coach around injuries. A “we not me” attitude on the court. An “all for one and one for all” game style. That right there is what Stevens is great at, hence why he is so comfortable when key players are sitting out. That is not him adapting at all, contrary to how it may seem. It is in fact right where he strives.
Brad Stevens needs to learn how to coach a team with multiple true scorers, and multiple guys that want to become stars. The NBA is a star-first league. Every player wants to become a star. It does not mean that player disregards team play, but deep down they have a “me first” attitude while still wanting to win.
So that is one part of it… Brad needs to take control of the locker room. When the Celtics are blowing a 28-point lead and the camera pans to him on the bench, there is no emotion being displayed. That is his way of coaching, we all know that. But would it hurt to show a little fire? The players might follow suit.
Against the Clippers, they held the 28-point lead. Doc Rivers never stopped coaching his team. He was all over the place. Look what happened, the Clippers came back and won. Meanwhile, Brad Stevens was staying as cool as a cucumber. Which coaching style worked out in that game? Again, Brad does not need to go full-blown crazy coach, but perhaps becoming a bit more engulfed in the emotion of the game would do him and Boston some good. Adapt based on what you see and what is happening, rather than just sticking to what you know.
The second part of this has more to do with his actual in-game coaching. Think back to some of these bad losses... Brad Stevens was a major reason. Why? Well weirdly enough, he stuck to his game plan too closely. Using the Lakers loss as an example, they were up 18 points in the first half and Jaylen Brown was on fire. On both ends of the floor. Then, seemingly, out of nowhere Brad decides to take him out. Why? Well, the rotational game plan called for it. Same thing when we look at the Houston loss, he sat two of the top scorers for that game, Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris, for what seemed like years in that third quarter and then the game just got out of hand. Why? Well, the game plan called for it… There are plenty of these examples out there.
Point being, sometimes it is alright to stray away from the plan. Sometimes it is alright to ride the hot hand or say, “screw the plan, we need a change on the court.” Same thing goes for his calm, cool, and collected attitude. Sometimes you just have to energize your team.
So for those reasons, and a few others, I really do believe this starts at the top. That said, I am so far from the fire Brad Stevens narrative. There is no better option out there. You’d essential just be firing him to fire him. Which is not a great plan… He'll figure it out, because he has to.
Stevens is a great “coach” but Celtics fans are starting to need a little bit more. They want and need a fearless leader. Having his great sideline plays and defensive sets is amazing for this team, but it is time to take the coaching to the next level. So, come on now Brad.. It is time to steer this ship.