The Boston Celtics have made a number of brilliant moves since trading away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets in 2013, but none of them are probably better than the hire they made a week after that trade went down.
Brad Stevens signed a six-year, $22 million contract with the Celtics on July 3rd, 2013, and won his 200th game with the team on Thursday in London against the Sixers.
Today’s win marks the 200th career victory for Head Coach Brad Stevens.
He is the 7th head coach in franchise history to reach the 200-win mark. pic.twitter.com/R6K1cO8q75
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 11, 2018
The Celtics have a 200-172 record in four-and-a-half seasons under Stevens. Their record has improved every season during the coach’s time in Boston, going from 25 wins in his first season to 53 wins last year.
Stevens joins Red Auerbach, Tommy Heinsohn, Bill Fitch, K.C. Jones, Chris Ford, and Doc Rivers in the Celtics’ 200-win club. In the spirit of Stevens’ head coaching milestone, we’re going to take a look at some of the best wins from his time with the team to date. These aren’t ranked, but instead listed in chronological order. At the end, you can decide how they’re ranked from 1-10.
November 9, 2013: Celtics stun LeBron with Jeff Green buzzer beater
The new-look Celtics went into Miami for an early-season matchup with LeBron James and the defending champion Miami Heat. The highlight of the game was Jeff Green’s buzzer beater after Dwyane Wade’s blunder at the free throw line, but Stevens’ ATO’s down the stretch of this game kept the Celtics in striking distance to the point where they had the last shot with the game on the line.
This game was a bright spot in a relatively ugly season where the Celtics finished with the fifth worst record in the NBA. But at least we knew after this one that Stevens knew what he was doing and that Gerald Wallace is the king of the inbound pass.
March 4, 2015: Tyler Zeller’s game winner against Utah
Right before this play, Gordon Hayward hit a shot for the Jazz to go ahead by one, and then Stevens comes back with this beauty where Marcus Smart hits Zeller underneath the basket for a lay up before Rudy Gobert comes in for a block.
The Celtics improved to a record of 24-35 after this win, and it catapulted them into a 16-7 run to finish out the season and sneak into the playoffs in Stevens’ second year in the NBA. Boston would eventually get swept in the first round by the Cavaliers, but it was a special time to be a Celtics fan as they made it to a postseason in which they had no business making.
February 2, 2016: Avery Bradley ends the Celtics’ rebuild
Boston had no business winning in Cleveland on this occasion. But thanks to Marcus Smart boxing out the 7’0 Timofey Mozgov out of the play and forcing a turnover, and Stevens calling another great ATO to get Bradley open, the Celtics shocked the Cavs on the road to end their short rebuild.
The Celtics didn’t get to face Cleveland in the playoffs that season since they fell to the Atlanta Hawks in six games, but this game proved that Boston had the ability to beat the Cavs even with the massive talent difference.
April 1, 2016: Celtics end Warriors’ 54-game home winning streak
Golden State was in pursuit of an NBA record 73 wins late in the season before the Celtics handed them their eighth loss of the year in this stunner. Stevens deployed a defensive game plan against the Warriors that put their guards in high pressure situations and ended up forcing 22 turnovers (nine from Steph Curry alone).
The Celtics had favorable match-ups against this version of the Warriors, and Stevens was able to put his players in position to succeed against superior players. Golden State ended up winning 73 games in the 2015-16 season, but the Celtics made it difficult for them in shrinking their margin for error down the stretch.
April 13, 2016: Boston comes back from 26-point deficit vs Heat
On the last day of the 2015-16 season, the Celtics found themselves in a 26-point hole against the Heat. In the second half, they made it a point to get out on the break and it helped them go on a 20-0 run. Miami’s lead vanished in a matter of minutes, and the Celtics eventually won by 10 points to secure the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Boston seems to come back from 20-point deficits all the time nowadays, and we can see that Stevens is a major reason for it. He keeps his team playing hard at all times, and when the roster keeps improving, the Celtics get that much harder to beat.
April 24, 2016: Celtics win Game 4 against Atlanta
The Hawks had the Celtics’ number in this first round matchup and it took some masterful coaching from Stevens to tie the series at two games a piece. In need of a boost in Game 3, Stevens inserted Jonas Jerebko in the starting lineup which helped secure the win then. In game 4 he kept Jerebko in there but faced a different challenge when Paul Millsap went for 40 points trying to put his team up 3-1.
Nobody could stop Millsap until Stevens threw the 6’4 Marcus Smart on him down the stretch. Smart held Millsap to 1-5 shooting and hit a couple of big three’s to push his team over the top in an overtime win. The Celtics lost the series in six games, but it was evident that Boston had a tactical advantage almost every time out with Stevens on the sideline.
April 21, 2017: Gerald Green changes the course of Boston’s playoff run
After dropping the first two games at home to the Chicago Bulls in the first round last year, the Celtics needed Game 3 desperately. Stevens’ team was getting dominated on the boards trying to match up with the Bulls’ front court, so the head coach went with a significant lineup change.
Inserting Green at the power forward position spread the floor out to the point where Chicago had no way to effectively guard Boston without giving up their size advantage. Green finished with eight points in Game Three, but the win turned the Celtics’ 2017 playoff runaround completely.
May 22, 2017: Bradley shocks Cleveland without Isaiah Thomas
The Cavaliers crushed the Celtics in the first two games of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, and with Isaiah Thomas done for the year with a hip injury, nobody thought Boston would win another game. Stevens had his team ready to go in Game 3 with endless ball movement and motion offense.
Marcus Smart’s 7-10 display from three and Jerebko’s 4-4 off the bench helped draw the Celtics close at the end of the game. Then Stevens drew up another terrific ATO that left the Cavs’ defense in shambles as Bradley drilled the game winner. This was a gutsy win for the Celtics that made us all proud to root for them, and Stevens was a big reason for it.
November 10, 2017: Celtics win without Irving-Hayward-Horford
Horford and Hayward were ruled out of this game before it started, but then Kyrie Irving went down a few minutes into the first quarter with a facial fracture. The Celtics had to overcome an 18-point deficit without their three best players in the game but they managed to do it.
Stevens deployed an unlikely lineup of Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Shane Larkin, Daniel Theis, and Guerschon Yabusele to energize the team back into the game. Boston locked the Hornets down in the second half as you can watch above, and were able to with their 11th straight game after starting the season 0-2. In my humble opinion, Brad Stevens locked up the Coach of the Year award with this win.
December 28, 2017: Smart completes 26-point comeback vs. Houston
In one of most insane endings in recent memory, the Celtics came back from a 26-point halftime deficit against the Houston Rockets. Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum were key contributors, but it was Marcus Smart who won the game in the end. In drawing two consecutive offensive fouls on James Harden in the closing seconds, Smart capped off one of his best defensive performances of his career.
The Celtics have had a number of big wins under Brad Stevens already, and there will surely be more to come given the amount of playoff runs this team is poised to make for the foreseeable future.
So what games did I miss? I only included ten of them, but I’m sure there are a few that deserve to be mentioned as well. But of those listed, which would you say is the best?
Which of Brad Stevens’ wins is the best in your opinion?
2013: Jeff Green buzzer beater vs Miami
2015: Zeller buzzer beater vs Utah
2016: Bradley buzzer beater vs Cleveland
2016: Snapping GS 54-game home win streak
2016: Comeback against Miami
2016: Game 4 against Atlanta
2017: Game 3 against Chicago
2017: ECF win without Isaiah Thomas
2017: Beating Charlotte without the big three
2017: 26-point comeback against Houston
66 votes total