Celtics coach Stevens doesn't want to be compared to Popovich
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 03, 2018 02:27 PM
FILE - Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens looks at the scoreboard during the first quarter of the team's NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat in Boston, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is just 41-years-old, but his knack for drawing up plays, adjusting on the fly, and creating airtight defenses have gotten him plenty of praise, even some comparisons to San Antonio Spurs mentor Gregg Popovich, arguably one of the best right now in the Association.
Stevens himself though would tell you such comparisons are crazy.
"I would have to check the source and tell them they probably don't know what they're talking about," Stevens told international media during a conference call, Wednesday (PHL time), when informed of comparisons to Popovich because of his impact on the Celtics. "I'm not in that ballpark, and I'm pretty cognizant of that.
"This is a league that is incredibly humbling to be a part of because the players and coaches are so good. Every single day you have to stay on your toes just to survive, and I think that's something that you don't take for granted.
"To be compared to somebody like Pop, again, it's flattering, but I don't take it too seriously because I know how far away I am from a guy like him."
Stevens took over as head coach of the Celtics beginning with the 2013-14 season, after a successful stint with Butler University, that includes a pair of runner-up finishes in the NCAA March Madness tournament. Boston improved each season, going from 25-57 in his first campaign, to last season finishing with the top record in the Atlantic Division, 53-29, and going all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.
At the start of this season however, Stevens and the Celtics were essentially forced to change their plans completely, when offseason acquisition Gordon Hayward, whom Stevens coached in college, broke his leg and dislocated his ankle in the early moments of the season opener. While Boston dropped that game, and their next one, they quickly bounced back with a 16-game win streak, leading to them occupying the top of the East with a 30-10 record, thanks in part to the best defensive rating (100.8 points given up per 100 possessions) in the league.
The Celtics are now looking forward to a different in-season experience, participating in the NBA London Game 2018 on January 12 (PHL time) against the Philadelphia 76ers. "To me, it's just another thing to speak to why we're so thankful to get an opportunity to do what we do," said Stevens.
The coach added that the team will be doing some sight-seeing while on that side of the pond, saying, "We've got to balance well the preparation, and time spent together, and the opportunity to see the sights for day or two. I think that's something that I really want to give our guys a chance to do."
Before that trip though, the Celtics have a rematch against the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 4 (PHL time), followed by games against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Brooklyn Nets (January 6 and 7, PHL time), prior to heading over to London's O2 Arena.