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Forsberg's Focus: Can Brad Stevens rise to the challenge in 2021?

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* Each weekday for the rest of the month, we’ll put a member of the 2019-20 Celtics, and one of their most notable statistics, under the microscope while assessing their season and what lies ahead:

318

That’s Brad Stevens’ regular-season win total through seven years at the helm. That’s already the fourth highest total in team history and there’s a good chance that, before the end of the extension he inked in August, Stevens will vault to the No. 2 spot behind only Red Auerbach.

This postseason, Stevens got his playoff record up over .500 (37-36) and the challenge now is to deliver the championship that decorates the résumés of all the Celtics coaching legends around him.

What went right for Stevens in 2020

After the tumultuousness of the 2018-19 season and its aftermath, Stevens glued the Celtics back together and brought back a more familiar brand of basketball.

Forsberg's Focus: Assessing what's ahead for the C's roster

With a clear focus on accentuating the best players on the roster, Stevens put Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in position to make their leaps. Pressing the right buttons with the center-by-committee approach and navigating a never-ending stream of injuries, Stevens got his team back to the East’s title round. 

What went wrong for Stevens in 2020

Some of Boston’s postseason woes fell back on Stevens, most notably the team’s inability to maintain its composure as big leads evaporated — as well as Boston’s struggles against Miami’s 2-3 zone.

Stevens prefers to let his teams play through rough patches, but this squad did a poor job of catching itself when things went sideways. Stevens had his team prepared for success inside the bubble but injuries hindered Boston and the team let a golden opportunity slip away against Miami. 

 

Early outlook for Stevens for 2021

If the Celtics bring back much of the core from last season, Stevens will be operating with his most talented team based on the progress that Tatum and Brown have made.

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The bigger challenge for him, though, might be developing some of the late-lottery and non-lottery talent on this roster — guys like Romeo Langford, Robert Williams, and Carsen Edwards — even if the focus is on winning a title. Developing the talent at the back of the roster is even more important now given the salary commitment to the stars at the top of the roster.