The internal hot seat may not be turned up to maximum heat quite yet. However, many outside the Celtics‘ facility have begun to seriously question whether head coach Brad Stevens is capable of leading Boston to Eastern Conference legitimacy the way the team is currently constructed.
On Sunday night, the Cs suffered a colossal meltdown to the New Orleans Pelicans, blowing a 24-point lead en route to a 120-115 overtime defeat. The five-point loss dropped Boston’s record to 15-15 on the season and marked their eighth loss over their last 13 games.
Trying to identify the biggest culprits in the Celtics’ recent struggles, analyst Stephen A. Smith landed on both Stevens and president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, during Monday’s airing of ESPN’s First Take.
“The fact of the matter is Danny Ainge felt like he had the team in place. He didn’t need to really really go for it, go for the chip or whatever,” Smith said. “It’s no shame in trying to build a team around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. But you did that, alright. And it’s not panning out right now.”
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Stephen A. Smith Questions Brad Stevens’ Motivational Skills
As for Stevens, while Smith praised the head coach for his basketball mind, the commentator questions whether the Celtics head coach bolsters the motivational skills needed to propel Boston forward.
“When I look at Brad Stevens, here’s what I see. I see a guy that knows the game of basketball, that can coach his butt off. My question is the motivational skills that he has available to him – in his arsenal. Are you the kind of guy that can galvanize the troops and maximize the potential around you?” Smith asked. “Of course, he’s respected. Of course, we look at him and know he knows the game of basketball. He knows what the hell he’s doing. But I’m talking about that leader of men that’s able to peel something out of you that you might not even know is inside of yourself. The great, great coaches figured out a way to do that over the years.”
“It’s something about you as a coach where you shove aside the x’s and o’s because everybody knows what the other is doing. That’s able to peel something out from inside of you and say ‘okay I’m going to maximize the potential, even the potential you didn’t know you had.’ That is the element I have not seen from Brad Stevens,” he admits. “And I think the Celtics have reached a point where now it’s called upon to find out whether or not Brad Stevens has that little extra something in him to get that little extra something from his players – the players around Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. I have not seen that yet and as a result, I think you’re going to hear a lot of noise about Brad Stevens. If this stuff continues in Boston with these guys struggling, you’re going to hear a lot of people talking about ‘why have we raved about Brad Stevens so much.’ They’re going to be asking that question, fair or unfair.”
Fans Call for Stevens’ Job
Danny Ainge took to the airwaves recently to back Stevens, telling 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show “It has nothing to do with coaching,” in regards to Boston’s recent struggles.
However, don’t tell the fans that, as many called for Stevens job after Sunday’s loss. Here’s a mere glimpse of what Celtics Twitter looked like following the team’s overtime defeat:
As of now, Stevens’ job is secure. Yet, as Smith touched on above, questions surrounding the head coach will continue to build unless the team turns things around swiftly. And no one is more aware of that than Stevens himself.
“Listen, it’s enough of a trend. It’s enough of a concern. We’ve got to stop it,” Stevens said during Sunday’s postgame. “Last year at this time, we were in really good shape in those moments. It has not been good.”
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