Brad Stevens Rumors
“What concerns me?” said Stevens, mulling the question for a moment. “Well, I think you always have concerns that, you know, for us, we’ve played two straight seasons eight months all the way ’til late May. It’s not like playing into the Finals, like people talk about, but it’s pretty close. “And the idea that when you have a team back that was so good defensively that we don’t skip steps. I’d say that’s the No. 1 concern I’ve got. I’ve watched teams before have really good years and then kind of go through the motions on that end of the court. And we can’t do that.”
Beyond the strictly basketball part, sources who know Irving well believe the Celtics culture has helped engage him in ways Cleveland’s failed to do. Irving’s leadership skills, sometimes dormant behind James, were needed to help Boston’s young roster. One source believes Brad Stevens is doing “all the right things” to maximize Irving, a player so talented he can grow restless looking for his next challenge.
Teammates have noted that Irving sometimes hunts out more difficult finishes than he needs as a way of testing his limits. While working out, Irving also tries to push himself — for example, he will play 1-on-1 games where he can only finish with his left hand off the glass. The idea of taking on more challenging leadership responsibilities, which the Celtics empower everyone to do, excites him. “How much it sharpens your focus to have to lead young guys, and how much joy he takes in doing that — that’s fun for him because it’s not easy and he knows it’s not easy,” said the source. “And so he’s intrigued by the cerebral aspect of leadership, that he has to talk to this guy differently than he speaks to that guy.”
Jay King: Brad Stevens said Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward have been making great strides, playing 5-on-5 for a few weeks now. “I think that both he and Gordon will appreciate all the little things and all the mundane things even more.”
Jay King: Brad Stevens on whether the plan is for Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward to sit out back-to-backs or anything like that: “I’m not sure I anticipate that with either of those guys from everything I’ve been told thus far. I think they’ve really — they’ve made great strides.”