BOSTON (CBS) –The Boston Celtics have just 10 games left in the regular season, which has proven to be a rather long one for first-year head coach Brad Stevens.
While he said he’s had some tough moments this season, 48 of them to be exact, Stevens feels it’s important to finish the year strong and continue to improve.
“I think when you look at some of the better teams in the league, certainly talent is a huge part of it and everyone being on one page is a huge part of it, but you also look at the continuity that was built over time. Every moment guys have a chance to be together, it’s very important for guys to be productive,” Stevens told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh & Zo on Friday. “These guys haven’t had a lot of chances to play together, and I think a big part of this is giving Avery (Bradley) and (Rajon) Rondo a chance to play together, and seeing progress and development from all of our guys, but certainly the guys under contract moving forward.”
Stevens has been impressed with Rondo’s play since the point guard returned from ACL surgery in January. He’s learned a lot about Rondo in his first year, and wasn’t the least bit surprised when Rondo asked back into Wednesday night’s loss against the Raptors despite having nine stitches on his face.
“He relishes those moments,” said Stevens, “those ‘count me out, I’m coming back in’ moments. He not only came back in but I thought he played really, really hard all eight minutes. He did a great job defending, and he was defending their wings – including Demar Derozan, who he did a good job on.”
“He’s a good basketball player, but the exciting part is he can get better. I think he’d be the first to agree with that,” said Stevens. “I also think he’s still not completely back and won’t be for the rest of this year; he needs another good summer of health and work to get back.”
“What I’ve learned (about Rondo) is that when things are going against him, when he gets knocked in the nose or maybe tweaks an ankle or something isn’t going well, or someone is going against us like a DeRozan or Melo, he wants to guard them. He has that mindset and competitive spirit,” Stevens added. “I think he can get better in every which way, but that’s a fun thing to see.”
While Rondo’s play on the floor has been entertaining for Stevens, Celtics fans will get to see a different side of the point guard when he does play-by-play for the first quarter of Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls.
“He’s going to be great to listen to,” said Stevens. “He knows what to say and what not to say. He’s a bright guy and he’s going to do a great job. I’m excited we’re doing that; I think it’s a great thing to do so the fans can hear his insights as he’s watching a game. He might not give all that he’s thinking, but he’ll give enough that people are interested in what he has to say.
“He’s looking forward to it. It was his idea,” explained Stevens. “The more we all talked about it the more we said it would be great; for the organization and the fans. It’s a home run.”