If Doc Rivers or Tom Thibodeau yell at their players, nobody blinks an eye. They yell for just about any reason and that's their style. Brad Stevens, on the other hand, is about as even keeled a coach as you will find. So when he gets fired up, his team pays attention.
Last night the Celtics finished out a poorly played first half in sloppy fashion. That got Brad riled up.
They’d shot just 37.8 percent, they’d made just one free throw, and they’d committed 10 turnovers, all against the Southeast Division’s last-place team, the Orlando Magic. Turner knew their usually calm, composed coach, Brad Stevens, would have a message. He just wasn’t expecting the storm.
"I’ve never heard Brad really curse," Turner said. "He cursed us out pretty good. I didn’t know who was coming in the locker room, but he came in and started screaming. "He thought we were playing too cool, and obviously we don’t have the type of team to play too cool against anybody."
He must have gotten their attention because the team turned things around enough to win the game and pick up more ground on their race to make the playoffs. That made the coach feel much better.
Stevens was back to his typically composed self after Friday's game and actually seemed to savor the way his team fought back on a night it couldn't seem to do much of anything right for the the first 3+ quarters. "I think this is one of the best wins we've had and the reason is we didn't have it," said Stevens. "We didn't have it and we had to figure it out. We had to find a way and that's not easy."
Stevens has been coming up aces often recently. He's made a number of decisions with lineups and out of timeout plays that each seem to be working out well.
"I’ve got a pretty good idea," he said of his intentions in those situations entering a game before Friday night’s contest against the Orlando Magic at TD Garden. "But I am not going prioritize my preconceived lineup over trying to figure out what’s going on in the game. I am probably more likely to stick with what I think is working, or sometimes go with your gut in those situations, than maybe what you thought a few hours before."
For some reason people keep asking Stevens and the players about the wisdom of making the playoffs vs. staying in the lottery. I don't know why they would ever answer with anything other than "we're focused on the playoffs." Still, it is also nice to hear that Stevens has support from Danny Ainge as well (and again, what else is he going to say?).
But Brad Stevens insists he and Ainge are on the same page with regard to the desire to play well enough each night to make a run at a playoff mooring. There has been no suggestion from above that the coach let up on the reins and give developmental minutes to younger people when others have earned them — which is why Gigi Datome has taken James Young’s place in the rotation.
I've been a fan of Brad Stevens since the day he was hired. A lot of factors go into a coach's success, including personnel, situation, support structure, injuries, and plain old luck. But good coaches tend to shine over time. Stevens has adjusted to the NBA game and is finally getting the results that many expected him to get before long.
Doc Rivers once won Coach of the Year by taking an overachieving Magic team to the playoffs. Stevens probably won't win coach of the year this year but he's making people take notice of him and the Celtics. He's got the chops to be a great NBA coach and he looks to be a very important piece to building for the future.