BOSTON (CBS) – In his first four NBA games as a head coach, Brad Stevens had to watch his rebuilding Boston Celtics blow leads in each of them, ultimately leading to an 0-4 start.
But that changed on Wednesday, as the Celtics held off a late comeback by the Utah Jazz to hold on for a 97-87 win — Stevens’ first of his young NBA career.
“Winning is more fun than losing,” Stevens said following the game.
The 37-year-old now has a new piece to add to his trophy room, as Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck made sure to grab the ball after the win and present it to his head coach in front of the team. But the glory of that milestone isn’t going to last long for Stevens and the Celtics, who are staring at another back-to-back this weekend with matchups with the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
“Wyc was nice enough to grab the ball for me, so that was really nice,” Stevens said. “You know, I’m going to celebrate for a whole 12 minutes and then I’m going to start watching Orlando and trying to figure them out. Obviously they’ve had a great start to their season, and they’ve got good young talent. We’ve got a couple more road games – I feel like we’ve already toured half the NBA this week – so just a couple of more road games this week.”
Stevens has gone through plenty of growing pains through the first five games of his NBA career, and there will be plenty more as he continues to adapt to the pro game. He enjoyed nothing but success in the college ranks, so losing is something new for him.
But the Celtics are prepared to go through the learning process with Stevens, as is evident by the six-year contract they signed him to in July.
“He’s a really smart guy and a really good guy. He’s one of the few people in our business that really is who he appears to be,” Celtics president Danny Ainge said of Stevens on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday. “All of the things you hear and saw watching him as a college coach, there really is no baggage with Brad. He’s a very intelligent guy, learning the game on the fly. It’s a learning process for him and he’s got a good assistant staff. He’s a guy that works harder than any coach I’ve seen and I think he’s going to be a great success.”
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Wins won’t be easy to come by this season as Stevens and the Celtics rebuild for the future. But getting that first one of his career, and first one of the season, out of the way is a big step for any new coach in the NBA, one that he hopes will lead to plenty more.
“I think we’ve played two pretty good games back to back, so that’s the most positive thing moving forward,” said Stevens. “Hopefully we feel better about ourselves as we move forward.”
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