Marcus Smart, Celtics trusting Brad Stevens ‘more this year than ever’
Brad Stevens was an unproven commodity when Danny Ainge hired him to man the Boston Celtics bench in 2013. The former Butler University coach had proven that he could win at the collegiate level, but league personnel wondered whether or not the success would translate in the NBA.
While the Celtics struggled in his first year, Stevens led them to the playoffs in just his second season. By his fifth year in Beantown, Stevens had notched back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances.
With a healthy Kyrie Irving joining a young and hungry squad, the Celtics looked like the favorites to win the East in 2019, but they underwhelmed amidst a number of frustrations and chemistry issues.
Smart defended any criticism of Stevens with respect to last season, telling Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal that it was the first time Stevens was in the limelight:
“Brad was in a tough situation like we were,” Smart said. “We never dealt with that type of publicity and Brad never dealt with it either. It’s a learning point for us and him. We went through it together. It takes a lot for a coach to admit when he didn’t do his best job and we commend Brad for that. You got somebody like that as a coach who is generally able to own up to it, you have so much more respect for him and the team wanting to go out to play for him. The team tends to trust him a little bit more.”
For his part, Smart has developed an identity as the heartbeat of this Celtics team. He is a tireless defender, and his energy is infectious.
Stevens has been on record multiple times saying that Smart is one of the best defenders in the league. It would seem that the sixth-year point guard has his coach’s back.