Why the Celtics postseason run is incredible and why Brad Stevens is the best coach in the NBA

By Jaidev Pant
May. 06, 2018

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

What the Celtics have done during the postseason is amazing. If you told any other team that their two best players would be gone during the postseason, they would most likely just give up and expect to lose in the first round. The Celtics have not done this, as they won their first round playoff series and are up 3-0 in their second round series. Not only is it impressive that they have made it this far, but it is crazier to think they have been able to play like this against the teams they have played. Milwaukee was supposed to beat them because they had the best player in the series in Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s not like Milwaukee played a bad series, it’s just that the Celtics outplayed them. Going into the Philadelphia series, many people thought that the young Sixers team could actually make the conference finals. They arguably had the two best players in the series in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and the Celtics had just come off of a seven game series with the Bucks. Once we found out Jaylen Brown was out for the first game, it seemed inevitable that the Sixers were going to steal a game from the Celtics, giving them an advantage for the rest of the series. However, the Celtics have proved everyone wrong and are up 3-0 against the Sixers. Game 1 from the Celtics was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from a team. They had their three best players out during the game and won by sixteen. I mean it wasn’t close and they outscored the Sixers every quarter. In my opinion, the Celtics performance this year in the playoffs has truly been amazing. They aren’t the sexiest team, but they have great fundamentals and play as one team, not just a bunch of superstars like some of the other title contenders. It is crazy that the Celtics are able to get such great production out of so many players, who have honestly been role players all of their life. I mean Terry Rozier is the Celtics leading scorer this year with 19 points per game and leads the team in assists with 6 per game. Last year, he averaged 5.5 points and he averaged 11 points this year during the regular season. He’s not putting up Kyrie numbers, but he is pretty close to that. It is amazing that a role player for the Celtics can step up when Kyrie is injured and can nearly match his numbers. People forget that Jaylen Brown is a second year player and that his weakness coming into the draft was his shooting. He’s stepped up big time this year and you can tell he has been working on his game. He is arguably now the second best 3-point shooter on his team. Jayson Tatum is a rookie this year and is averaging 18 points during the playoffs. People said Ben Simmons was the rookie to watch this series, but it turns out Tatum has been the better rookie. Tatum has stepped up during his rookie season with Hayward being out. In fact, I think that Tatum is doing just as well as Hayward would have done this year. I’ve honestly never seen so many interchangeable players on one NBA roster. They are truly the New England Patriots of the NBA.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

There are many reasons why the Celtics have been so good this postseason. The main reason is Brad Stevens. He is the best coach in the NBA and the Celtics are the best-coached team in the NBA. He is good at all aspects of coaching and is making this team play out of its mind. His in game-adjustments and plays are amazing. The out-of-bounds play he called at the end of the game was so smart because he made sure that he ran that play a lot during the game, so that option to Horford was available. Not only are his plays and basketball IQ amazing, but his overall strategy for the series and in general are great too. He has made sure that Ben Simmons is a non-factor this series. This is the same Ben Simmons who is considered to be the future of the NBA. He has been able to reveal the weaknesses of Simmons offensively, as he scored a point in game 2 and has played below average during the other games. Ben Simmons is playing badly during the series and that is because of Brad Stevens. However, the best part of Brad Stevens is that he is able to get the best out of his players every night. I have never seen a coach get so many players to play their best basketball nightly. He is able to beat great teams with a rookie, a fringe all star, a second year player, and two role players in his starting lineup. Stevens does not even have his two best players. He is getting Tatum to play like a third year player, Horford to play more defense and be a defensive anchor, and Terry Rozier to play out of his mind. Stevens has 4 players on his team averaging 17 or more points, without his two best players on the court. Remember when people thought Isaiah Thomas was a star in this league? That was because of Brad Stevens. He is different in his style of coaching. He lets his players play their game as long as they contribute something he wants in return. That is seen by Marcus Smart, who shoots the third most threes on the team despite making 1 a game. Stevens lets him do that because he knows that Smart is the team’s hustler and will make an impact on both ends of the court without shooting the ball. Brad Stevens is changing the game and most teams don’t know it. The NBA is being played at a fast tempo because many teams try to emulate the style of the Warriors and the Rockets. Brad Stevens decided that there is no need to play like them and instead, they should do the opposite and play at the slowest pace in the league. However, that has worked amazing for them during the playoffs and has allowed them to win many games and possibly reach the Conference Finals. Because teams are so used to playing at a fast tempo, they are not ready when the Celtics switch it up on them. The slow tempo that Stevens uses allows his team to play to their strengths. Finally, I have to give credit to the Celtics players. At the end of the day, the players are the ones who have to do what the coach says. The Celtics are executing Stevens’ plays and are making sure that they knock down open shots. They are the ones who have decided to play with intensity and they also make sure to slow down the tempo. NBA teams should be scared of the Celtics and they will be one of the great teams in the NBA for years to come.