The offseason was exciting with the Boston Celtics signing superstar Gordon Hayward as well as shockingly trading franchise face Isaiah Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers for point guard Kyrie Irving.
With Al Horford already in tow, as well as Jaylen Brown looking to improve upon an outstanding rookie season, the C’s looked to be all in this year and to finally give the fans what they have been waiting for. Banner No.18.
Just a few minutes into the very first game of the season, one of their prize acquisitions Hayward goes down with a gruesome injury to his leg and Celtics nation fell silent. Conversations of a lost season began to creep into the minds of fans in “Title Town.”
This held true when the Celtics came home to face the Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee Bucks. Rookie Jayson Tatum saw a huge spike in minutes in the wake of the injury and looked like a child lost in the woods as the Bucks made it look like men against boys.
The Irving trade looked like a disaster as he was nowhere to be found. In the first two games, the former All-Star scored a meager 39 points along with 35 percent shooting. The trade was beginning to look awful to fans as many wondered why they got rid of the proclaimed “king of the fourth quarter” in Thomas.
But, then something shifted in Boston as they won their first game, then they won again, then again, and again.
Tatum grew from a lost boy to a groomed professional, Irving turned into the leader the Celtics were hoping for and Brown could be debated as an NBA All-Star this year.
Now three games away from tying the franchise record in wins in a row (19), the Celtics are arguably the best team in the NBA even without their star small forward.
What changed? What happened? One of the key answers is Celtics head coach Brad Stevens who’s teaching of the young players and ability to coach superstars like Irving to fit into a scheme has made him one of the superior coaches in the NBA.
“He’s the man. So for me, I just try to soak up as much knowledge as possible,” Irving said about his coach in an interview with MassLive. “Just being in kind of the passenger seat and then also, it’s like having a driving school teacher. He’s driving you the whole time, then he puts you in the driving seat sometimes and you’re able to see the road. When you’re able to bounce ideas and have that type of connection, and it’s still developing, it’s pretty awesome.”
His work with the team has turned heads like Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr who was defeated by Steven’s squad just recently. Kerr recounts a time during the days when Stevens coached at Butler that he saw signs of his great ability.
“The first time I met [Stevens] was when he was coaching Butler in the Final Four and I was covering the games for CBS, and I was really impressed then,” Kerr stated. “Then obviously the work he’s done here the last couple of years has been amazing. He’s one of the best, and it’s all coming together for their organization.”
Sports change along with the times and Stevens being as young as he is with the early success he has had, attributes to the different style of coaching that has come in the recent decades.
Kerr highlighted this as one of Stevens’ key attributes. Which is listening.
The days of the old school coach, you know, ‘my way or the highway, winning is everything,’ the slogans on the wall, ‘only the strong survive,’ those days are long gone,” Kerr said. “It’s more about understanding, collaborating, communicating without being a dictator, but finding a way to still have the control of the team that you need. That’s why [Stevens is] good.”
If you want to see why Stevens and the Celtics have been so successful thus far, look no further than what Stevens said about the streak almost a week ago.
“We haven’t played well enough to consider this win streak to be valid in my opinion,” Stevens stated to the media. “We’ve figured out ways to win games. We gotta play a lot better.”
Even though the team holds the best NBA record and are one of the franchise’s all time best winning streaks, it’s still not good enough for the coach and for the players that follow him.