Brad Stevens Leaning Heavily On Celtics’ Unsung Heroes

Getty Images Head coach Brad Stevens of the Celtics

It’s easy to forget the fact that Boston Celtics’ veteran point guard Jeff Teague hadn’t played in an NBA game in over nine months before making his debut for the Celtics.

Following the NBA’s 2019-20 regular season being postponed, Teague wasn’t playing much basketball. He didn’t play in the Orlando Bubble, where the season resumed and held its 2020 playoffs.

Now, with over 33 games under his belt in Boston, Teague has found his groove and just turned in his best performance of the season, thus far. Jeff scored a season-high 26 points on 10-of-12 attempts, including a pair of threes to go with his six assists.

Teague’s veteran leadership made its presence felt immediately after the tip-off by attacking the rim to draw defenders and find open shooters.

Jeff Teague On 2020-21 Celtics: ‘We Played Hard And I Think Our Group Is Connected’

Then came additional scoring in the second half, where he doubled up on his 13 points at the half.

“As a group, I think we played hard and I think our group is connected,” Teague said after the Celtics’ loss, Monday night. “Not having Kemba (Walker) and Jayson (Tatum) is pretty tough. But, I think the guys that had an opportunity tonight played hard. We like winning in this locker room. So, guys are going to compete at a high level and try to do their best, do their job, to get us a win.”

Even without Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, Boston’s aggression on defense was lacking in overtime — where it mattered most. It’ll be interesting to see how Celtics head coach Brad Stevens divvies up playing time in the backcourt when Walker eventually returns and joins Jeff.

Celtics Rookie Aaron Nesmith Back In Brad Stevens’ Rotation?

Searching for the best version of themselves, the Celtics, including guys like Teague and rookie Aaron Nesmith, have seen their playing fluctuate under Stevens as Brad pointed out the individual improvement he’s seeing in his rookie.

“The challenge for guys like him, especially young, young shooters who come into the league, is just adjusting to the speed of the game and the tests of these guys at this level,” Stevens explained. “But he is a great worker and he has really worked hard to say if I am not scoring the ball like I’d like, or if I’m learning where my spots are, offensively, I can still impact the game in other ways.”

Nesmith, who finished with five points and five rebounds in 17 minutes against the Grizzlies, on Monday, made an impact on the glass — where the Celtics were out-rebounded by Memphis, 54-43.

“That, for him, has been a reliable multiple effort defender and some offensive rebounding,” Stevens said. “He’s probably the best of our wings at crashing the glass from the opposite corner and that’s a valuable thing to carry with him as he moves on. Those can be separators. Those guys that get a couple of possessions a game — I think it’s been very obvious that none of those young guys have really separated themselves from the others.

“But, I do think what Aaron has brought to the table is encouraging and I do believe strongly in his work and who he will become, for sure.”

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