The Coach of the Year goes to……

     As the NBA season winds down, let’s take a look at the coaches who deserve to win coach of the year. Some of the obvious names include Steve Kerr of the Warriors, even though they are having a down year to their standards, Mike D’antoni of Houston, Dwane Casey of the East-leading Raptors, and Brad Stevens of the Celtics among a few others. The one that truly deserves the award the most is Brad Stevens.

     Brad Stevens is the coach of the year in mind because of what he has been able to do with players missing a lot of time. He has had to plug different players into thehayward starting lineup almost all season because of injury. Like many basketball fans know, the injury bug didn’t waste any time attacking the Celtics. It struck five minutes into the season opener with the Cavs and got Gordon Hayward, who was starting his first season in Boston after signing over from the Jazz, and he hasn’t been able to play since. Other players that have been plagued by injuries this season are:

(most recent injuries)

Kyrie Irving-16 games missed (knee) 24.4 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.8 rpgbig3

Gordon Hayward- 75 games missed (ankle/leg) 2 points in the opener

Marcus Morris-26 games missed (ankle) 13.6 ppg, 1.3 apg, 5.5 rpg

Marcus Smart-22 games missed (thumb/thigh) 10.2 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.5 rpg

Al Horford- 8 games missed (illness/ankle) 12.8 ppg, 4.8 apg, 7.4 rpgbrownmorris

Jaylen Brown-11 games missed (concussion) 14.0 ppg, 1.6 apg, 5.1 rpg

Daniel Theis-13 games missed (meniscus) 5.3 ppg, 0.9 apg, 4.3 rpg

     With missing that many players for long periods of time and the most experienced vet left having 7 years of experience at most to go along with 4 rookies and still have a shot at the top spot in the Eastern Conference shows that Brad Stevens should bejaysontatum the coach of the year. Not only does Coach Stevens have the team 2 games out of the top spot behind Toronto, he has been able to find ways to get production out of his young players, most notably Jayson Tatum, who was thrust into the starting lineup following the injury to Hayward.

     Even with having 7 players who are big contributors missing games, Coach Stevens has guided the team to a 53-23 record so far and like I stated before, a shot at the top spot in the conference. Don’t get me wrong, the other coaches are very deserving of the award, but Coach Stevens has been able to find success with a very limited lineup option and fewer big-time players.

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A Bright Future for this Celtics Team

                As we all figured, the final two teams standing are the Cavaliers and Warriors for the third straight year. On Thursday night, Cleveland beat Boston to advance winning the series 4-1. Boston was the only team that the Lebron James led team did not sweep in the playoffs this year, while Golden State eased through each of their series to be the first team to go 12-0 in the playoffs. Even though this match up could be seen coming since after Cleveland won the title last year and especially after Kevin Durant signed with Golden State, I believe that some of the teams in both conferencesecf2 will step up to the challenge and get closer to the level that the Warriors and Cavs are playing on and be closer to ending this streak of Finals appearances for both teams. For the Boston Celtics, the future is so very bright in terms of what they can accomplish.

                This is just the beginning for the young Celtics team; they will be towards the top of the East again next year. This team seems primed to make another run at the Eastern Conference Finals next year with all the talent that they currently have and the opportunity to acquire more whether it is from the draft and using the top pick or by trading that pick for someone like Jimmy Butler or Paul George. They also have the advantage of having one of the best young coaches in the NBA in Brad Stevens.

                This franchise has come far from where it was just 4 years ago at the start of the Stevens era. This team had just come off a 41-40 year, the franchise sent their greatschampionship winning head coach to the Clippers, they had traded two of the greatest players of this generation to the Nets for a bunch of bench players and a few draft picks and were beginning the process to rebuild. No one expected Coach Stevens to succeed in the NBA since most college coaches struggle in the pros unless you have a team built to win now. In his first year, he led the team to a 25-57 record, the worse since 06’-07’, and would draft a scrappy guard from OK State in Marcus Smart with their first-round pick.

                   Going into the trade deadline in his second season, Coach Stevens had the team at 20-31 and in need of a boost somehow. Towards the final moments of the coach stevensdeadline, Danny Ainge would pull off one of the most one sided trades this decade, two years after he pulled of another one that did not seem like it at first; he would swap Marcus Thornton and a first rounder for the undersized guard in Isaiah Thomas. That season they would end with a record of 40-42 and get into the playoffs with the 7th seed.

     IT4     Since the acquisition of Thomas, the Celtics are 121-74. This team has been able to improve every year under Stevens. They have increased their win total each year from his first year and going 25-57 to this past year and winning 53 games and appearing in the Eastern Conference Finals. It also helped that they could lure one of the best big men in the league in Al Horford from Atlanta. With the amount of young talent and the stash of draft picks, I would certainly say that the future of the Celtics is very bright and that they are ahead of schedule in terms of finishing their rebuilding phase of the franchise last year and are able to win now.