WALTHAM, Mass. – There is no mistaking that Brad Stevens isn’t happy with what he has seen from the Celtics defensively thus far.
But when it comes to slow starts, Stevens said he had seen worst when he coached the Butler Bulldogs which he led to back-to-back national runner-up finishes.
“The worst start that we ever had defensively was when we got beat by Duke in the national championship game (in 2010),” Stevens said. “We were 8-4, we had everybody back; our details weren’t very good. We got to the point where we were pretty good by the end of the year. Not pretty good, we were really good by the end of the year.”
As in, a return trip to the NCAA title game where they once again came up short, but this time it was to UConn.
Having gone through that experience, to see his team struggle as it has thus far defensively has not been a total shock to the fourth-year head coach.
“This wasn’t necessarily unforeseen,” Stevens said.
Despite ranking near the bottom of the NBA in a number of defensive categories, there’s hope that the Celtics’ defensive fortunes will turn around soon.
Boston has played with a number of players out with injuries, most of whom are close to returning to the floor.
Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) may return sometime this week while Jae Crowder (ankle) isn’t likely to see action until end of this week at the absolute earliest.
As for Al Horford (concussion), his timetable remains uncertain after Stevens revealed on Monday that Horford did not practice with the team and had not “advanced in the (concussion) protocol.”
Stevens added, “Not advancing is telling that the symptoms have been at least prolonged through yesterday.”
Like that Butler team that struggled out the gate defensively, the Celtics have spent a lot of time this season talking about what they need to do better on the defensive end of the floor.
“I hope I’ve been consistent in saying defense isn’t something you talk about, it’s something you do,” Stevens said. “And we haven’t done it very well.”