C's Question of the Day: Is Stevens' honeymoon over?
Is Brad Stevens' honeymoon over?
From now until the opening of training camp, we'll be asking a question about the Celtics and the upcoming season. Today: Is the honeymoon over for coach Brad Stevens?
BOSTON – When the Celtics convinced Brad Stevens to leave behind an incredibly successful college coaching career at Butler (two national title runner-up finishes) to become their head coach in 2013, the Celtics were immediately credited with having added one of the brightest young basketball minds to the family.
Three years into the job and Stevens has shown tangible improvement with Boston having won more games from each season to the next.
But this 2016-2017 campaign will be unlike any that Stevens has had at the helm in Boston.
While the expectations each year have been greater than their immediate predecessor, Boston now finds itself going into the season as one of the hunted in the East as opposed to being well entrenched among the hunters.
Westgate Las Vegas Sportsbook released its win total odds last week for NBA teams., predicting the Celtics (51.5) will be one of five teams (Golden State, Cleveland, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Clippers were the others) expected to win at least 50 games.
But as we all have seen, expectations and actual results don’t always mesh.
Stevens has enjoyed a tremendous amount of support from the franchise and fans throughout his first three seasons.
But if Boston fails to live up to the increased expectations, does that mean the honeymoon for Stevens is over?
While anything is possible when it comes to Celtics Nation, it will take more than one sub-par season for him to lose the support of the team’s fan base.
Here are three reasons why regardless of how the Celtics fare this season, "In Brad we trust" will remain in effect.
Boston has a roster full of what league execs like to refer to as "Young Veterans."
A great example of this is 27-year-old Isaiah Thomas who is heading into his sixth NBA season.
Thomas, a first-time all-star last year, has seen enough of the league to not be confused with a youngster. That said, he’s still young and has enough upside to where you can’t classify him as a grizzled veteran, either.
Because that makes up the majority of this Celtics roster, it speaks volumes about how this group still has a tremendous amount of room to grow going forward.
And because of that potential and Stevens’ track record of getting the most out of his players, you won’t see him or the Celtics panic if this season doesn’t play out the way they envision it.
In Stevens’ first year coaching the Celtics, there was a definite talent gap between what Boston put on the floor and what they had to deal with on the opposing bench.
And yet there they were most nights, fighting and clawing their way towards a competitive game that no most nights ended with a loss.
The silver lining in that 25-win season was how this Celtics team played with a never-give-up mentality, a trait they saw first-hand from their coach Brad Stevens.
Regardless of whether they were up 25 points or trailing, Stevens maintained an even-keeled demeanor that quietly accomplished a number of things.
For starters, it provided a sense of confidence among the players that their head coach wasn’t going to get rattled by a rough night or a stretch of rough nights.
Regardless of the results, Stevens was going to continue working towards getting better.
That was his approach when they were struggling to win games, and it remained in place last season when they spent a good chunk of the year ranked among the top teams in the East.
So with that being established as part of the foundation under Stevens, that foundation combined with better talent collectively led to more wins.
Stevens and the Celtics are now at a crossroads in which the steady improvement we’ve seen now must take that all-important next step and become one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
Again, it is much easier said than done but as every Celtics player will tell you, is definitely doable.
While Cleveland remains the standard bearer in the East, it is very wide open afterwards with Boston, Toronto and Atlanta the most likely teams to contend for the No. 2 spot in the East.
The mood is always a positive, upbeat one on the eve of training camp.
But the Celtics have more reasons than usual to be optimistic about their upcoming season which kicks off with training camp this week.
They have better depth with the additions of rookie Jaylen Brown and veterans Gerald Green and four time all-star Al Horford. Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder all return with the mindset being to build off of what worked for them last season.
And then there’s Stevens who has quickly established himself as a bright, up-and-comer in the coaching world.
But at some point, all that promise and potential he has shown as a coach has to ultimately lead to big-time production.
And the pressure that comes with that tends to build when the honeymoon that all coaches enjoy, is officially over.
Stevens is getting close to that point, but he isn’t there yet.
Much of his success will still be based on players striving towards reaching their potential.
Because of that, he won’t catch too much heat if the team underachieves in what will be a season in which the expectations have never been higher.
But that’s OK.
Because regardless of how the stakes may be, Stevens will continue to be an even-keeled, level-headed leader that Celtics Nation won’t turn its back on anytime soon.