I’m still having a hard time grasping this fact, but it inevitable at this point. The Boston Celtics’ playoff hopes are getting further out of reach and are on the brink of missing the playoffs for the first time in six years. Despite this notion, Brad Stevens is still going to have some personal goals in mind during the final stretch of the 2013-14 season to ensure his success with the Celtics. Stevens is here for the long haul with his contract expiring in 2019 and will be examining this whole basketball team along with Danny Ainge from here on out.
One really important task for Stevens is to maximize Jeff Green to his full potential. There are still many Jeff Green critics out there, but this has been the best season he has played during his career being the current leading scorer. Stevens has been trying to push Green into becoming more of a playmaking threat as opposed to staying comfortable as a one-dimensional scorer that he is used to playing. Defensively, Jeff Green has let a few too many easy cuts to the basket get away from him and that will have to improve quickly before next training camp. Stevens has benched Green a few times this season because of a lack of production at crucial times and that could be enough to light a fire under him to really start picking up the pace. We’ve been informed that despite looking as a lottery team this summer, the no quitting mentality still stands and that includes Stevens pushing Jeff Green beyond his limits.
With the exceptional recent play of Kelly Olynyk, now would be the time for Brad Stevens to runs plays designed for the young 7-footer. Olynyk is a real gifted center that has been crashing the offensive glass all season long and has been arguably the most dependable bench scorer for the Celtics. Olynyk has been running the basic screen-and-pop play effectively where he stands alone at the 3-point line ready to make his shot, but it would be great if Stevens could put his 7-foot body in better use down in the post in mismatches. With Rajon Rondo running point guard, Olynyk will be able to adapt to playing in the low post quickly with how well Rondo sees the floor. Kelly Olynyk’s average field-goal attempt is 11.5 feet from the basket according to Basketball-Reference.com and we would like so see that number drop to some degree.
One area that is fast growing in the NBA is how teams are approaching the 3-point line offensively and Brad Stevens has taken notice. The Celtics have been playing smothering 3-point defense all season long with only allowing an average of 6.5 shots made per game (2nd lowest in NBA) and 18.8 attempts per game (4th lowest in NBA). Stevens is a mastermind when it comes to game film and studying trends around the NBA, so studying more trends this offseason with be crucial on how well he prepares the Celtics in games next season.
Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley have a great on-court relationship, which determines the outcome of every game. Unfortunately, both players haven’t played together on the court at the same time in recent years because of injuries to both players. Now that both players are healthy enough to play out the final stretch and watching this combination will be very important as Bradley will be a free agent this summer and Rondo will be a free agent next summer. There’s not a lot of time left for Stevens to keep a close watch on how Bradley and Rondo can really coexist of the floor during this stretch run and this could be the Celtics’ backcourt of the future of everything falls into place in a short time period.
With a lot of Celtics fans saying that the team has nothing left to play for except for the lottery, that isn’t entirely true as Brad Stevens has a lot on his plate trying to figure out how his future with the Celtics will be a successful one. Stevens is a very smart coach and will bring out the best in all of his players as the season draws to a close.