In Bill Simmons' latest article, he not only states that Doc's work this season should have him in the "Coach of the Year" award race, but declares that the Celtics are now indeed championship contenders. The blockquote below is a footnote referencing his vote for Coach of the Year.
Who should raise the MVP award over his head? - Grantland
For the record, I'd vote for Doc. He lost Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal, Chris Wilcox AND Mickael Pietrus. Danny tried to trade his point guard right before the season. Everyone on the team thought they were being shipped out before the deadline — and for the record, they DID explore trading the Big 3, with Pierce coming the closest to leaving (to New Jersey for a cheaper version of what the Nets ended up paying in their incomprehensible Gerald Wallace trade). And the Celtics kept coming. I still believe Doc did an awful job from 2005 through 2007 and nobody will ever convince me otherwise. He was passable in 2008 — just passable. He was better in 2009, and 2010 was excellent. By 2012, he's clearly one of the best two or three coaches we have. He's been amazing this season. It's like anything else — the more you do something, the better you get at it. He's a really good basketball coach.
(Note: For those following along, here's what Simmons said somewhere during that 2005 - 2007 period)
One statement I do not agree with is terming Doc's work just "better" in 2009. That 2009 team, without KG in the playoffs, won some very close games in possibly the greatest playoff series I have ever witnessed defeating the Bulls in round 1. This year was the first time that Rondo started to go into absolute blastoff mode at times throwing up near triple doubles on a regular basis. Doc should truly deserve some serious credit for Rondo's development in 2009 while allowing this team to at least compete without a bonafide big man.
I also believe that if the Celtics slip into that third spot in the East, there is no question that Doc deserves "COY." The following footnote sums up Simmons' thoughts on the Celtics being contenders and their possible playoff run.
You're ****in'-A right I threw the Celtics in here, especially with the way they've been playing defense lately. And for the record, don't think I haven't sketched out the whole "Boston wins the division, gets the no. 4 seed, beats up Indiana in Round 1, then gets the Bulls in Round 2, only Rose is still hobbled by his mystery injury, leading to — YES! — another upset, and meanwhile, the Magic (secretly well-equipped to beat Miami if they're making 3s) upset the LeBrons for the second time in four years, leading to an improbable Celtics-Magic Eastern Finals (and by the way, the Celtics own Orlando) and the final act of the Celtics-Lakers Finals trilogy. Odds of this happening? About 100-to-1. But still.
As noted above, their defense has been amazing while it has lead to oppurtunities with Rondo leading the fastbreak. Imagine if this team does indeed get one last shot against the Lakers in the Finals. Would this not be the most watched NBA Finals in league history? Round 3: Celtics Lakers. We can only hope. Even if they can possibly find themselves in the Finals once again, this truly could be the greatest TEAM performance in Boston Celtics history.