Despite increasing his regular season win total in each of his last two seasons, Brad Stevens' winless postseason record is beginning to linger with his critics, few as they may be.
Stevens currently is 0-6 in the postseason heading into Boston’s crucial Game 3 battle against Atlanta Friday night.
While injuries to two of his best perimeter shooters help explain some of Boston’s scoring woes during their 89-72 Game 2 defeat last night, it’s worth wondering if Stevens could have done more.
In a fair and reasonable piece posted last night on WEEI.com, Ben Rohrbach discussed some potential changes that Stevens might want to try.
Before getting into Stevens, Rohrbach mentions the Celtics’ failure to convert from long distance.
So, where does the blame lie? Either the players aren’t good enough or they’re not being put in the best position to win. Well, the Celtics are now shooting 25 percent on 63 3-point attempts this series -- many of which were open or wide open -- so Door No. 1 is probably a safe bet.
Rohrbach then adds how Boston’s struggles could potentially be connected to Stevens’ willingness to play big upfront.
After falling behind by double digits to start Game 1, Stevens swapped Evan Turner for Amir Johnson to start the second half, and the C’s slashed an 18-point deficit to single digits. That small lineup, with Turner serving as a second ball-handler to ease the burden on Isaiah Thomas, worked. So, how did the Celtics respond in Game 2? They kept Johnson and Jared Sullinger in the starting lineup, and it took all of 3:15 before Atlanta led by double figures and Stevens went small with Turner.
Also noted is how Stevens was slow to adjust to LeBron James in last year’s opening round series.
The Thomas-Smart-Jae Crowder-Sullinger-Johnson starting unit isn’t getting the job done. Is Stevens overthinking things? Is he too slow on the draw? After all, he didn’t make the obvious move of starting Crowder opposite LeBron James until Game 4 of last year’s series.
Lastly. Rohrbach gives his solution for Game 3.
Here’s a novel idea for Game 3: Tighten up the rotation, and play someone more than 35 minutes. No need to save anyone anymore. The season is on the line. Run with Thomas, Smart, Crowder, Turner, Jerebko, Johnson, Rozier and a sprinkling of Sullinger or Tyler Zeller.
For Boston, there was no shame in being eliminated in four games to the eventual Eastern Conference Champions, especially when that same team later sweep the number one seed in the East, the Atlanta Hawks. And with the injury bug hampering the Celtics at the worst possible time, advancing by the Hawks this year is unlikely. But getting one win is not too much to ask. Stevens shares in the responsibility of removing the donut from his playoff record.
At the very least, Stevens appears to recognize the need for adjustments.
#Celtics coach Brad Stevens on possible G3 changes: There are tactical things (we can change) and the potential for personnel things.— Scott Souza (@Scott_Souza) April 20, 2016
Question is will those adjustments be effective?
Photo Credit: David Goldman/AP
Follow Patrick on Twitter at @PatBernadeau Patrick Bernadeau 4/20/2016 08:14:00 PM Tweet Edit