Take nothing away from Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and the rest of this Boston Celtics team. They have done a fantastic job, but the key member of the Celtics has been and will continue to be coach Brad Stevens. The former Butler man has done what has to be considered the best coaching job this season, and one of the best of all time as well.
After making decisive moves over the summer, Boston positioned themselves to be better both on defense and on offense. But that threatened to unravel when Gordon Hayward went down with injury. They still would finish second in the East, but they ended up getting even more bad news in the form of injury to Kyrie Irving right before the beginning of the playoffs.
That led many to doubt their credentials, but they have jumped over those hurdles tremendously thanks to the guidance of their coach. They defeated the 76ers on Wednesday night in Game 5 to win the series 4-1 and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will meet the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is a major achievement because this team was perceived to have less talent and just about the same amount of youth as the Sixers, yet they still won the series fairly comfortably in the end.
While the Raptors’ Dwayne Casey, much maligned as he may be, and rightfully so, ended up grabbing the Coach of the Year Award from his peers, it is Stevens that will be smiling and having the last laugh. There are no true moral victories in sports, but this is as close as it comes. The Celtics are effectively playing with house money, and they could just pull off another couple of shocks. And that is likely to be orchestrated by Stevens, the man who received zero votes from his peers as the best coach.