Here we are nine games into the season, and Boston Celtics fans are already buzzing about new head coach Brad Stevens. Why? Because he’s actually good at his job.
After starting the year 0-4, the Celtics brought themselves back to .500, including a win against the defending champion Miami Heat, and now rest at 4-5. When you look at the sorts of problems the Celtics have, Stevens is addressing them, albeit with limited means.
For example, ball movement is an issue. It wouldn’t be if Chris Paul was on the Celtics, but Stevens doesn’t have Paul, he has Avery Bradley. Interior defense would be much easier of Roy Hibbert was in a Celtics jersey. Instead, Stevens has Jared Sullinger.
This becomes relevant when we think of how much easier running the point would be if Stevens had Rajon Rondo. Stevens does have Rondo, but he’s not getting near the court. Just like before, the former Butler University coach has to make do with whomever he has: in this case, it just so happens to be Jordan Crawford.
I was not a Crawford fan last season. He took one too many threes in almost every game, was full of turnovers and had a questionable attitude. Despite all the up-and-down moments he gave us, never in a million years would I have ever guessed that he would be running the Celtics’ offense. Heck, I laughed when he said he was ready to take on a leadership role in the offseason. Yet here Crawford is, leading the Celtics’ offense.
I know it takes a lot of hard work to get where Crawford is, and I don’t question how much he put in during the offseason, but you can’t not give coach Stevens major props for this.
It’s only his first month on the job, and it looks like Stevens may have solved the Celtics’ biggest problem: the lack of a point guard. If all goes as planned, Boston will probably keep running the Crawford offense (or the “Crawfense” as I like to call it). Don’t expect many 10-assist, zero-turnover nights like he had the other night, but Crawford at the one could be the regular setup until Rondo does return.
Celtics fans haven’t even had 30 days of Brad Stevens basketball, and there is already a lot to be excited for. Coaches that are supposed to tank don’t beat the Heat on the road without any good players. They don’t find a way to overcome their greatest weakness; they use it as an excuse. Finally, coaches looking to tank just don’t have the admiration and respect of their players. So far, Stevens has been called a “mastermind”, “best friend” and someone with a “very high basketball IQ”.
This is a guy who convinced Rondo to read a psychology book and has asked the team to act like “word processors”, per the Boston Herald. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that he was able to whip Crawford into shape. If the “Crawfense” is the highlight of the year, the Celtics might not be in for such a bad season after all.