Eagle: Brad Stevens Will Win Championships

Ian Eagle believes Stevens is the best tactical coach in the NBA

The DA Show
May 07, 2018 - 12:59 pm

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Brad Stevens lost Gordon Hayward on opening night. He lost Kyrie Irving in March. Nevertheless, the Boston Celtics finished with the second-most wins in the East and are one game away from a second-round sweep of the 76ers – not to mention a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons.

Is Stevens the best tactical coach in the NBA?

“He is elite, there is no doubt about that,” NBA on TNT announcer Ian Eagle said on The DA Show. “ I believe he will win a championship, if not multiple championships at some point. He’s doing this with a team that he did now allow to get into the mindset that they can’t compete because they don’t have Kyrie Irving or they don’t have Gordon Hayward. He just never allowed that to be the case. Whatever dips they had along the way were quickly handled and he adjusts. Tactically, he very well could be No. 1 right now. He’s just so smart, he pushes the right buttons, and he says the right things in the right moment.”

The Celtics started hot this season: 16-2 and 34-10. They hit a midseason wall, going 6-9 during a 15-game stretch in January and February, but went 15-8 in their final 23 games. Boston was tested against Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs, ultimately prevailing in seven games. Against Philadelphia, the Celtics were pushed in Games 2 and 3 but made clutch plays in key moments.

Stevens had something to do with that.

“If you sit down with him – and I had a chance to sit down with him when he was the head coach at Butler – I was blown away,” Eagle said. “I thought to myself, ‘This is at a different level.’ The way he spoke about the game, the way he could convey his feelings and communicate the game – I was really impressed the four of five times I was assigned Butler games during his tenure there.”

When Stevens left Butler in 2013, there was skepticism. How could a 36-year-old coach with zero NBA experience succeed at the highest level? 

Well, Stevens has succeeded – and he’s increased his win total every year, going from 25 wins to 40 to 48 to 53 to 55.

“He gets the Celtics job and everyone thought, ‘It’s outside the box. What are they doing?’” Eagle said. “The transition has been incredible smooth because of him – not because it’s a college coach that went to the NBA and this can be done. It’s him. It’s the individual way that he approaches things. To answer your question, yes, I think he’s No. 1 in that category right now.”

The Celtics have been remarkably balanced this postseason, with four players – Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Jaylen Brown – averaging between 17.1 and 19.0 points per game.

Boston can close out the 76ers in Philadelphia on Monday. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. ET.