BOSTON (CBS) – The Eastern Conference may be a sad collection of NBA talent, but there is no denying that the Celtics have gotten off to a very impressive start under new head coach Brad Stevens.
After some early-season bumps along the way, the Celtics have won six of their last eight and find themselves 10-12 heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
On Monday night’s “Celtics At 7” on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The Adam Jones Show, Jones and Rich Keefe say while you can give credit to the players, most of the credit should go to the man who is putting them in a position to succeed: head coach Brad Stevens.
“You have to give the players credit, guys like Jordan Crawford who has led the Celtics in scoring in each of the last three games and is shooting at an incredible clip in that span… but doesn’t it all go back to the head coach? Doesn’t it go back to Stevens, first of all, learning his personnel?” said Jones.
“I think it has to go back to the head coach and the adjustments he’s made. The significant one to me, which triggered their initial four-game winning streak, was getting Avery Bradley away from point guard and recognizing that Jordan Crawford could be that guy. That, to me, sums up everything you need to know about Brad Stevens and what he’s done early on this season,” added Jones.
In addition to moving Crawford, Stevens is also getting the most out of Jared Sullinger in the starting lineup (the second-year forward is averaging 13.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game), forward Kris Humphries off the bench, and convinced veteran Gerald Wallace to accept his role off the bench after he began the season in the starting lineup.
“The more familiar he’s gotten with the personnel the more he has extracted from that group, and that has to be an encouraging sign early on this season,” said Jones. “There hasn’t been a time I’ve looked at Stevens and said ‘he looks like a college coach.’ He’s fit in since day one.”
“A lot of that is the lineup stuff,” Keefe said. “He’s not afraid to try out different lineups, and it seems 22 games into the year he has a good idea on who is starting these games, who is closing these games –which a lot of times is even more important — and he has a real good grasp of what he has.”
Jordan Crawford, fresh off being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, is also in-line for some praise, but that also goes back to Stevens, who is getting everything he can out of the guard.
“I thought he was purely a volume scorer, and clearly I was off on that. I don’t know if he’s as good as he’s playing now, but I sold him short,” Jones said of Crawford. “Either that or Stevens is better at extracting talent out of a young player than Doc Rivers was, which I wouldn’t rule out. This is part of the reason I love Brad Stevens; bring him in and maybe he can get more out of Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk or Jordan Crawford. Maybe he’s just better at putting guys in a position to succeed and not just coaching super stars.”
With Rondo coming back in the next month, both Jones and Keefe are intrigued to see how Stevens coaches an All-Star/Super Star: