BOSTON (CBS) – Brad Stevens grew up an Indiana Pacers fan, and isn’t looking forward to coaching against the team on Friday night.
But his fandom as a youth has nothing to do with his concerns for Friday.
“I’ve been watching them my entire life and I’ve never see a Pacers team this good,” Stevens said on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh & Zolak on Friday. “They are deep, they have stars, they have guys that fit perfect with the stars. I guess within the last 35 years, I’d be jumping up and down for joy, but now I have to [coach] against them.”
The Pacers come in 10-1, the top team in the NBA. The Celtics on the other hand are 4-9 and looking to end a five-game skid after a tough back-t0-back against the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs in Texas.
“The Houston game was not good; we did not play well and I didn’t think we were as competitive from a spirit standpoint as we’ve been. That’s a problem if it happened again the next night, but it didn’t,” said Stevens. “The hard part is we’re playing really good teams with really good players. We’ve had moments where we’ve played really well, but there are times where we’ve been worn down.”
Stevens said after Boston’s 109-85 loss to the Rockets, their worst loss of the season, the focus wasn’t on that night’s game against the Spurs, but on the Celtics themselves.
“You have a situation where this could be a real defining moment for your team in one direction. We spent all our time on us; we spent maybe 15 minutes on Houston. I was much more pleased with the way we played and the way we went about our business [in San Antonio],” said Stevens. “Maybe it was one of those times where, there’s a way to react after that first time and it can go one of two directions. I’m happy because the teams I’ve been on have always gone in the right direction.”
On San Antonio, coach Greg Popovich paid coach Stevens a huge compliment after their game on Wednesday, saying that the Celtics will be just fine in the future with him at the helm based on his analysis of Stevens as a coach.
“It means the world [to hear that] because he’s obviously really good at what he does. You could argue he’s the best in the world at this,” said Stevens of Popovich. “He was kind enough to seek me out before the game and spend some time just talking about all of his experiences and just encouraging me to stay the course.”
“He was great. I’ve got nothing but a great deal of respect for him. He’s a northern Indiana guy, so I guess us Indiana guys have to stick together somewhat. He’s an elite guy.”
Listen to the full interview below: