Boston Celtics’ new head coach Ime Udoka, alongside his predecessor and president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, revealed his direction for the 2021-22 Celtics during his introductory press conference, on Monday.
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With a coaching style that’s predicated on hard-nosed defense and a free-flowing offense, Udoka’s excited to get work and shared some of his basketball philosophy while fielding questions about the team’s future.
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However, according to Udoka, if the Celtics plan on reaching their goal this upcoming season, there’s one statistical category they need to improve in.
“We want to have a well-rounded team,” Udoka said. “Looked at the numbers overall, sorry to mention this Brad but 27th in assists last year — we want to have more team basketball there. But, at the same time, you have to understand what your personnel dictates — that’s Jayson, Jaylen, guys that can really score the basketball there at an elite level. You play toward their strengths, obviously, we’ll have a defensive mentality going in. I like to try to bring the dog out in guys.
“We have some young dogs here and I’m looking forward to pushing them.”
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Udoka’s extensive coaching background includes seven years under the tutelage of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and spending one summer with Tatum, Brown, and Marcus Smart back in 2019 while representing the United States in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
In 2014, Udoka and the Spurs topped the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Now, seven years removed, he hopes to guide Boston to its 18th championship.
“We have some work to do,” Udoka said. “That’s my job — to bring out the best in them and continue to strive for what this organization is about, and it’s about winning. Winning, getting number 18 in here, and that’s our goal. And like I said, we’ve all been aligned in that, and in symmetry with what the goal is. It’s not just about getting to a conference final or doing well in the playoffs.
“It’s about winning a championship. So, anytime you have those young pillars, you have a chance, and I think that’s where we’re at right now.”
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For Stevens, finding common ground with the opposing assistant coach who seemed to be one step ahead of Brad’s playcalling throughout two recent playoff series’ was pleasantly refreshing.
It’s also eased the interviewing process for Stevens, who knew he’d found the ideal candidate.
“It’s been a great journey to get to know him,” Stevens said. “Way better than I knew him as the guy that was yelling out our play calls in the Philly and Brooklyn series the last two years, and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”