Brad Stevens gave us another sign that he actually knows what he’s doing on the NBA level so far. On the college level, coaches are normally walking step by step with their players and dictating what they do. The talent level isn’t anywhere near as high as it is in the NBA, so the coaches really have to. They’ll make the game slower and walk the players through step by step during practice and even in some games.
Well, Stevens has made it clear that he’s not going to take that approach with the Boston Celtics this season. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England interviewed Stevens on Friday for a Q&A. They discussed a bevy of topics about the upcoming season. Among them was the Boston Celtics’ style of play. Here’s a snippet of what was said:
CSNNE.com: What style of play do you envision for this Celtics team, and will that be the same or different from the style you are accustomed to coaching?
STEVENS: “I don’t think style of play is defined by coaches. I think it’s defined by who the players are. You try to fit with your players to the best of their abilities at both ends of the floor, while at the same time provide a framework for which we can all work together.
“What I would like to do and what I see as a really positive thing with this group, is playing in transition with a lot of spacing. We have bigs that can really shoot the basketball. We have guards that are very athletic that can get into the paint. We got a couple of wings that can run the floor and do things in transition that are really high level. And then we got guys that can score off spacing, that can score off cutting and score off the bounce.”
CSNNE.com: And what about the other end of the floor?
STEVENS: “The other side of the ball, we want to be as connected as we can be. I’m a big man-to-man guy. We will mix in some zone here and there and we will do some things in certain situations that’s a little unique. But we will play hopefully an aggressive, solid man-to-man defense.”
Its a good sign that Stevens isn’t rushing to judgement on this roster before he’s even seen it in action. He, obviously, has some sort of idea of what he wants to run at this point, but he isn’t going to force any action on these players. With such a young roster, its key to make sure that they’re comfortable in their own skin. Stevens isn’t going to ask them to play outside themselves before he sees what, exactly, they can handle.
As far as offensive basketball, Stevens didn’t get into schematics. But with the defense, Stevens says that he wants to play man to man and be aggressive. This makes me wonder how aggressive Stevens will be on the defensive end. Will he have the bigs on the team play above the free throw line and hedge over screens or will they sag back? Stevens hint of aggression makes it seem as if they’ll be doing the former, just as the Miami Heat do.
The Celtics bigs, however, may not be able to handle the role of putting that much pressure on the ball. They don’t all have the footspeed and the quickness to give a hard hedge and then recover into the lane. That’s something that they may struggle with going forward. The perimeter players, though, should be fine with an aggressive, gambling style of defense.
Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo–once he returns–have made a living in the NBA by being aggressive defenders. If Stevens is able to get Gerald Wallace back to his former self and help Jeff Green become a better perimeter defender, things will be okay as far as perimeter defense goes.
No worries, though. Training camp is just around the corner and that means that so is the preseason. We’ll see, very soon, what systems on both ends Stevens is going to employ with the Celtics.