Stevens, Celtics Embrace Value of Film Study

WALTHAM, Mass. – There was Brad Stevens, sitting calmly at his postgame press conference Monday night at TD Garden. He was answering a handful of questions from the media, but his mind was somewhere else.

Anyone who understands Brad Stevens knows exactly where his mind was at the time. It was in the film room, where boatloads of information were waiting to be ingested.

Boston’s new head coach is as analytical as they come. He loves to study numbers. He loves to study film. Stevens loves those activities so much that he effectively becomes an insomniac if he avoids them.

“I’ll probably watch [the film] tonight,” Stevens said while raising his eyebrows with a smirk. “I won’t be able to sleep if I don’t.”

Such is the case with many coaches and players around the league in 2013. Stevens is of the new breed in the NBA. The new generation, if you will.

This is the generation of film study.

Ten years ago, film study wasn’t a critical aspect of preparation for many NBA teams and coaches. That’s not necessarily because coaches and teams didn’t believe in film study. It was more due to the fact that technology was a decade removed from where it is now.

“That’s interesting,” Kris Humphries said after having that notion brought to his attention, “because I came in with the Jazz and we didn’t watch a whole lot of film. I think back then they didn’t even have iPads; there were no iPads, we didn’t watch a whole lot of film, and there was just more (of an) old school (approach). Jerry Sloan was old school.”

Stevens, on the other hand, is new school. He’s diving into film at every possible opportunity, and he’s encouraging his players to do the same.

“He doesn’t force it, but it’s available,” Humphries said of Stevens. “I think that we love basketball, so if you see every time you walk through the locker room there’s clips of the upcoming team, you can’t help but notice, ‘Hey, they do this a lot, they do that a lot.’ And then you start to talk amongst yourselves, like, ‘Hey, if we do this, we do that…’ It’s just a team effort all around.”

As Humphries compared where film study was to where it is now, he also acknowledged that things have changed for the better.

“For me it’s transformed a lot. It’s been great,” Humphries said. “I’ve seen it both ways, and I think definitely there’s something to be said about guys who can see things on the court and make adjustments, and also adding the film on top of that makes for a good combination.”

Stevens and Humphries are on the same page in that regard. They both believe that watching film will make them better as individuals, and that it will also help the team as a whole.

The process of studying film is all about learning the opponent. Watching is learning, and learning about the opponent goes a long way toward stopping it from doing what it does best.

“I think the more you know player’s tendencies, whether it’s a guy like Carmelo or any of the great scorers out there, the better chance you give yourself to slow them down,” said Humphries. “Because we know this is an offensive league, so you just want to make guys work harder for their shots and get them to shoot below their averages.”

Sure, you can try to make them do that the old fashioned way, but this is the year 2013. Massive amounts of information are available to NBA teams at the click of a button.

They want to use it, and that’s why the minds of men like Stevens are often in the film room, even if they might be sitting right in front of you.