Brad Stevens has coached Celtics teams with far worse records. But Stevens even admitted the 2018-19 campaign was his most trying since coming to Boston six years ago.
Stevens' self-deprecating comments after the Celtics' season-ending loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the second round weren't just lip service, either. Just ask Micah Shrewsberry, Stevens' top assistant coach for the past six years who is leaving Boston this year to take an assistant coach job at Purdue.
"I think he really beat himself up,” Shrewsberry told The Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach in a recent interview. "Even when he was doing a great job, even when he was putting everything toward it, he still looked toward himself during all those moments. Hopefully guys appreciated that."
"He was always looking for ways to fix our problems and saying, ‘How can I be better to help these guys be more successful?'
The talented Celtics had stretches of success but never solved their chemistry puzzle, a reality that Shrewsberry said "probably still eats (Stevens) up."
Stevens isn't just wallowing in self-pity, though. Shrewsberry, who's been around the Celtics' practice facility for the past few weeks, observed his ex-coach is already "locked in" on figuring out how his team can improve next year.
"It’s kind of a 'when can we start?' " Shrewsberry said. " 'How can we get through this summer so we can get back to playing again?' There’s kind of an optimism, and a bad taste that you want to get rid of quickly."
The wild card is that Stevens could have a very different roster -- possibly one that doesn't include top scorer Kyrie Irving -- by the fall. But even as he shoulders the blame for Boston's underwhelming season, the 42-year-old head coach is turning the page.
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