The Boston Celtics sat down 0-2 to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs and people immediately turned on their head coach, Brad Stevens. Stevens, who at the time sat with a 2-10 career playoff record, suddenly had many on social media putting him on the hot seat.
In Gerald Green’s first start of the season, he scored 18 points and pulled in 7 rebounds in 23 minutes of play. The Celtics used Green during the rest of the series in addition to other coaching adjustments like sitting Amir Johnson entirely in the last 3 games of the series.
The Celtics went on to win the series 4-2, moving on to face a challenging Washington Wizards team with one of the better starting lineups in the league. Stevens stuck with starting Green in Game 1, and it didn’t exactly work out. Boston started the game 0-8 from the field and found themselves in a 16-point deficit in the first quarter.
Stevens quickly figured out that this series may not be suitable for Green’s skill set, taking him out of the game completely. The Celtics clawed their way back behind Jae Crowder’s 24 points and Al Horford’s near triple-double (21 Points, 9 Rebounds, 10 Assists), and quickly dominated the game utilizing their bench’s depth and won Game 1.
Stevens, at just 40 years of age, often finds himself being scrutinized quickly when the Celtics underperform, which comes with the territory of being the best young coach in the NBA. Since taking over the rebuilding Celtics in 2013, he has only missed the playoffs one year, and it was his first NBA coaching season, where the best player on the team was a declining and frustrated Rajon Rondo.
It’s astounding that anyone would ever put Stevens on the hot seat, considering there’s about 27 other teams in the league that would gladly welcome his coaching prowess (excluding Golden State and San Antonio). Every year, since 2014, Stevens has constantly found himself in the “Coach of the Year” conversation, which has been a welcomed surprise by Celtics fans.
With all Stevens has done for the Celtics so far, it’s safe to say he will stick around and Celtics fans are happy to have him. It will be interesting to see how Stevens adjusts throughout the rest of the playoffs with a lineup that seems to be so versatile. If there’s one thing that’s clear about Brad Stevens it’s that he’s never backed away from a challenge.