It’s been 3 and a half years since Brad Stevens took over a Boston Celtic team that had just lost it’s championship winning coach, a league MVP, and it’s franchise cornerstone for the better part of 2 decades. What he was left with was an All-Star point guard who loved to pass, and a bunch of role players who couldn’t score. Teams with similar talent like the Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns have been left in NBA limbo for years, but somehow in his 4th season, Brad is on his way to the playoffs for a 3rd time, and fighting for the 1 seed in his conference to boot.
Usually, when you go in the tank like the Celtics did, the playoffs are a distant goal. Even teams like the Lakers and Timberwolves who have had some of the best lottery luck of anyone in the past 3 seasons haven’t been able to put together a winning season, yet the Celtics were only out of the postseason once. While much praise should be bestowed on the higher ups in the organization for trying to win instead of tanking, as well as players like I.T. and Al Horford, Brad deserves as much credit as he can be given.
Some in Boston claim Stevens to be a non factor when it comes to winning. Yet, despite the Pacers froth of talent, they can’t win consistently. Despite the Bulls future HOF, and All Star SF, they aren’t winning consistently. Meanwhile Brad Stevens and his 5’9” All-Star are tearing up the rest of the conference. Those who say coaching is a non-factor in the NBA ignore one important stat. The stat that 39 of the 67 NBA champions were won by Red Auerbach, Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, and Phil Jackson. Those numbers indicate to me that maybe the right system is the biggest factor between who wins and who doesn’t.
Stevens is an All-Star this year, and unlike most coaches who get this honor, he deserves it. Brad Stevens is as big a reason that the Celtics are the 2 seed in the east today as anyone. Am I trying to tell you that Brad Stevens will one day be on that list with Pop and Red? No, because I can’t say that for certain. He’d need at least 5 championships to be on that list, and that’s a whole hell of a lot. What I am telling you is that coaching matters, and if you believe the Celtics need 3 All-Stars to win a championship, just know, they already have 2.