Brad Stevens Named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for Oct./Nov.
BOSTON – The NBA announced Friday that Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for games played during the months of October and November.
The fifth-year Celtics coach guided his squad to a league-best 19-4 record during the first month and a half of the 2017-18 season, despite dealing with a plethora of unexpected obstacles.
On Opening Night, the Celtics lost star wing Gordon Hayward to a season-ending leg injury, but the team barely skipped a beat under Stevens’ guidance. Boston lost its first two games of the season, but the team regrouped and went on to win 16 consecutive games for its longest winning streak since the 2008-09 season.
Over the course of the streak, the Celtics achieved seven fourth-quarter comebacks and overcame four deficits of 13 points or more. What made the stretch even more remarkable was the fact that the team had just come together as a new unit; the Celtics had only four returnees from last season’s team as they brought in 10 new players during the offseason.
On top of that, the C’s dealt with injuries to major rotational players, including Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris. Yet, they kept chugging along under the tutelage of their conductor.
“Brad, he’s a mastermind when it comes to coaching,” Morris said Nov. 10 after the Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets despite the absences of Hayward, Horford and Irving. “He puts guys in the right spots and strong areas to where they can succeed well at. He knows matchups and plugs guys in. He knows what they do best offensively and defensively.”
Defense was the key to Boston’s strong start, as it stifled opposing offenses with its collective length and athleticism. The C’s exited the month of November boasting the league’s best marks in both defensive rating (98.4) and opponent scoring (96.8 points per game).
Boston’s most impressive defensive effort came Nov. 16 when it held the Golden State Warriors’ league-leading offense to just 88 points at TD Garden. The C’s overcame a 17-point deficit that night to knock off the defending NBA champions, 92-88.
The Celtics have had a few standout players over the first month and a half, including Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum. Though, in reality, every player on the 14-man roster has contributed to the team’s success. That’s because Stevens has found a way to slot each guy into a role in which they can succeed.
“The more you live within the system, the better we all look and the more fun we all have, as well,” said veteran center Aron Baynes. “And that’s a credit to Brad.”
The Celtics’ players aren’t the only ones who recognize Stevens’ abilities on the sidelines. Renowned San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich recently dished out great praise for the 41-year-old coach.
"He is a special person -- and that's on and off the court," Popovich said Oct. 30 before Stevens’ Celtics dealt his Spurs a 108-94 loss. "He's very intelligent. And intelligence is fine, but if it doesn't come along with incisiveness, judgment and an emotional maturity, it doesn't do you much good. And he has all of those things. And that's large. Not that many people have that. It shows in the way he handles people and the way he coaches. He's going to be a great one before it's all over with. And he's already a hell of a coach."
This marks the third career Coach of the Month honor for Stevens, who also received the award in April of 2015 and February of 2016.
Houston’s Mike D’Antoni was named Coach of the Month in the Western Conference.