Since the last time I wrote about the Boston Celtics, they have managed to win three of five games, including an epic blowout of the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. Some players have cooled off, while others have pick up their game, one thing has remained the same, and thats the positive direction in which this team is headed.
Head coach Brad Stevens is still getting comfortable in his role as the lead man for the Celtics. He has used the bench quite a bit more than he was in the first couple weeks of the season, with players such as Courtney Lee producing well for the team off the bench. Stevens is the brightest young coaching star in the NBA, there is a certain gravitas that he possesses that is truly different.
Generally, college coaches that jump to the NBA have had a spotting track record, and thats putting it politely. They seem overwhelmed, panicky, and lose respect of their players quickly. Well, this isn’t college, and the dynamic of the relationship between coaches and players is flipped between the two levels. In college, coaches are king, nobody dare challenge them, but in the NBA, the first thing a coach has to acknowledge is that he works for the players just as much, if not more, than they work for him.
The head coach has the personality to thrive, with his laid back demeanor, basketball strategy, analytical savvy, and prestige of the organization he is apart of that in time he will be amongst the top three or so coaches in the game. With general manager Danny Ainge allowing plenty of time to grow, and accumulate better talent, Stevens will be given the opportunity sometime down the road to show how far he can go with a talented team, which is something he doesn’t have so far.
As hard as it is to believe, the Celtics right now are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Being two games below .500 and sitting at the fourth seed, tells you all you need to know about how bad this conference is right now. The only two teams they would have no chance of beating would be the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. Those teams are just way too talented to be overcome by this overachieving Celtics team.
Everyone else in the East could easily be overcome. The Celtics have a head coaching advantage over most teams already, and with the surprising play of some key Celtics and the potential return of star point guard Rajon Rondo, the Celtics will be a tough out in the playoffs.
Rondo is supposedly coming back within the next couple of months, and while it remains to be seen whether or not he will be the same after his knee injury, his return will nevertheless be fascinating. Known throughout his career as being aloof, and hard headed, it will be very interesting to see how he takes to the coaching of a rookie head coach. He has praised Stevens so far, but it is something to keep an eye on, whether or not his attitude towards the coach changes once he’s on the court.