What's next for the Boston Celtics?
The Celtics entered the 2020-21 season as potential championship contenders, but their roller-coaster campaign appears headed for a disappointing finish. The seventh-place C's seem bound for a play-in tournament appearance and just lost All-Star Jaylen Brown to a season-ending wrist injury.
So, after a season of underachievement -- Boston had a preseason win total of 45.5 games and are at 35 wins with four games remaining -- is it time for a change?
Stadium's Jeff Goodman believes that answer is "yes," and that it might be time to part with head coach Brad Stevens.
"I do think sometimes things have just run their course," Goodman said Monday night on NBC Sports Boston, as seen in the video above. "… Something needs to be done here. You have to shake things up. You can’t go into the season the same way that you played this year. And ultimately, the easiest way to make a change is Brad Stevens.
"… I think he did such a great job his first five years in Boston, but this year is one that, clearly this team has underachieved, and he’d be the first to admit it."
Stevens is the fourth-winningest coach in Celtics history and led overachieving teams to the Eastern Conference finals in three of the past four seasons. But Goodman believes Boston and Stevens simply could benefit from a fresh start after a campaign marked by inconsistent play and perplexing losses.
Jackie MacMullan sees things differently, however. The longtime ESPN reporter pointed out that Stevens just received a five-year contract extension last August, which suggests to her that he's not about to leave town -- and may get more of a say in roster building going forward.
“I think he’s going to get a chance to come back," MacMullan said Monday night. "Because I mentioned the COVID issues, the injury issues. I do think there have to be changes. Does Brad Stevens deserve blame? Of course he does. Nobody can come out of this blameless. There are nights when you wonder if he’s getting to this roster, are they listening, are they paying attention?
"All I can tell you is Brad Stevens’ teams are predicated on defense, and their defensive rating has plummeted this season. … This is not how he likes to play."
MacMullan also pointed out that Gordon Hayward -- a strong, versatile defender and excellent playmaker -- was a big loss for Boston this offseason. So, perhaps Stevens will advocate to bring in players with more of a defensive edge this offseason to return to his preferred style of play in 2021-22.
It's much too early to predict how the Celtics' offseason will shake out. But if they're out of the playoffs by the first round (or the play-in tournament), expect the pressure to be on Boston's decision-makers.