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Brad Stevens on Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack: ‘I love competing against them’

02.29.16 at 8:36 pm ET
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Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) has been a thorn in side of Brad Stevens. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) has been a thorn in side of Brad Stevens. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

Brad Stevens doesn’t like coaching against his former players.

In the first quarter he was reminded why. Gordon Hayward, most famous for nearly beating Duke in the NCAA championship game with a half-court buzzer-beater in 2010, had eight points and fellow Butler alum Shelvin Mack had six points as the Jazz took a 29-23 lead.

The two were recently re-united thanks a trade that sent Mack from Atlanta to the Jazz. Mack was placed immediately in Utah’s starting lineup. His first game with the Jazz was against old coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics.

What does he think of coaching against his former players twice in two weeks?

“It stinks,” Stevens said only partially tongue-in-cheek. “I love being out there. I love competing against them. If I was coaching the blue team in practice and they were on the white team a few years ago, I would try to do the very best I could to not let them have a good day. Shelvin has started off great for Utah, as we thought he would. As we’ve seen many times, it’s about opportunity and fit as much as anything else in this league.

“And Gordon has established himself as one of the better young players in the league, and that’s been a great growth process for me to watch because when he committed to Butler, he was a tennis player that played basketball and was growing into his body, and wasn’t near what he is now. Just to watch him the last eight or nine years has been pretty incredible.”

The Hayward story is well-documented but Stevens provided a refresher course before Monday’s game.

“He wasn’t heavily recruited until after he committed to us,” Stevens said. “It was that type of deal. He was great. He really wanted to be there. He really worked. He was always working. He was always in the gym. He was probably one of our bigger gym rats that we had over that time. He’s also a really relational guy, he really enjoys team, he really enjoys people.

“They pounded us last week. They’ve had some great moments, and those two guys are going to continue to have great moments as part of that organization. I just think you should grow, you should get better, you should improve. If you’re stagnating or if you think you’ve got it figured out, you’re going to get caught. I feel bad that those guys had to be coached by a guy that young and that dumb.”

Mack thinks the self-deprecating Stevens might just be a little hard on himself, considering the fact he became the youngest head coach in history to guide his team to back-to-back NCAA championship games. 

“I wouldn’t say that,” Mack said when told of the ‘dumb’ reference. “He was very smart, very mature. I’d say he handled the situation great at Butler.

“He’s a player’s coach. He can adapt to his players. I think the NBA is all about, or mostly about, the players. If you adapt to a player and make it easy, I think you have a chance to be a great coach. He’s able to do that, connect with his players, on and off the court. Off the court might be easier than on the court.” 

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Butler Bulldogs

Brad Stevens on Stephen Curry’s amazing 3-point skills: ‘It’s why the game is great’

02.29.16 at 7:30 pm ET
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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts after hitting the game winning shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime Saturday night.  (Mark D. Smith/USA Today Sports)

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts after hitting the game winning shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime Saturday night. (Mark D. Smith/USA Today Sports)

When he wasn’t jumping off trampolines and dunking or rebounding shots for his 10-year-old son Brady this weekend, Brad Stevens was joining his son and his friends in watching the amazing feats of Stephen Curry Saturday night.

In a performance for the ages, the amazing shooting guard for the Golden State Warriors made 12-of-15 from 3-point range Saturday night in an overtime win at Oklahoma City. The coup de grace was Curry’s pull-up 32-foot three that was the winning dagger in the 121-118 Warriors’ victory.

“My son had two friends sleeping over and we were all watching the game,” Stevens said. “It was great. It was great as a fan to watch and see. I’ve gotten a chance to grow up and see some of the greats play and see some of the greats make plays. It was fun to watch a group of 10-year-olds react to all those shots and react to all those things going in. It’s why the game is great.”

Stevens has always been a fan at heart of the game. When he played at Zionsville High in Indiana, he wore No. 31 in tribute of his favorite player, another 3-point wizard by the name of Reggie Miller.

Curry’s game-winner Saturday reminded everyone watching that his range is literally anywhere across the timeline, something that is rare. Has Stevens ever coached against something like that?

“Twice a year, twice a year since I’ve been here,” Stevens said of Curry, who he will see again in Oakland on April 1. “Very, very few guys. I think the amount of difficulty he hits shots with is incredible.”

While Curry is by far the leading MVP candidate in the league this season, there are others that are having remarkable statistical seasons, including Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, both of whom enter Monday’s action averaging double-doubles so far. Westbrook is averaging 24.4 points and 10.2 assists while Davis is at 24.1 points and 10.2 rebounds.

“It’s interesting. There are a few guys, though, that are having incredible years and doing incredible things and not talked about quite as much,” Stevens said. “I think the whole idea of range and extending range and widening the court for everybody else with your range, it’s in vogue and he’s taken it to a new level.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Golden State Warriors, NBA

Brad Stevens on his slam dunk demo reel: ‘I did ask that nobody tape it’

02.29.16 at 6:46 pm ET
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Brad Stevens had to know what was coming when he met with reporters before Monday’s game with the Jazz at TD Garden. His trampoline-aided slam dunk went viral on Instagram when “Lucky” the Celtics’ mascot decided to put his one-handed jam from Sunday.

Turns out, Stevens didn’t accomplish his rarified air feat on the first take. At least Lucky didn’t post the fails. But still Stevens gave some insight to his acrobatics on Sunday at the team’s training facility in Waltham in front of his 10-year-old son, Brady.

“I was there rebounding for Brady a little bit and just looked down the side of the court and they had those trampolines set up,” Stevens said. “I thought that would be fun. So I asked Lucky how to do it. I did ask that nobody tape it. Obviously, that got lost in translation. It’s proof I need to communicate a little bit better. Luckily, the few tries before that didn’t make on the web because it wasn’t quite as pretty.”

It was Brady who raced up to Papa Stevens after surviving the dunk. What grade would he give himself?

“Hey, it went in,” Stevens said. “You know, Brady would give me a ’10’ so I’m in. A dunk for me is pretty unusual. I enjoyed it. It was fun.”

At six feet, did Stevens ever dunk for real in a game for DePauw, where he played in college?

“Did I ever dunk for real? Not with… Not… No. Everybody that’s played says they’ve dunked and they have at some point. But it was with a flat ball and a 9-foot-5 rim, I’ve done that,” Stevens said. 

As for those who will and won’t be available to dunk Monday, James Young, recalled earlier in the day, was ruled out with a calf injury while Avery Bradley will start and play after twisting an ankle in the second half of Saturday’s win over Miami. 

“Avery’s fine,” Stevens said. “James Young has a little calf strain from playing in Maine [Sunday]. So he’s not available. And Kelly’s not available.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Lucky,

Brad Stevens sends congrats text to the revitalized David Lee in Dallas

02.29.16 at 6:34 pm ET
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David Lee (42) has found new life in Dallas. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

David Lee (42) has found new life in Dallas. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Brad Stevens has absolutely no hard feelings when it comes to David Lee. As a matter of fact, he’s very happy that the veteran big man has landed on his feet in Dallas. 

Lee, who was bought out of his final season of his contract ($15 million) the day after the trading deadline, has contributed in a big way off the Mavericks’ bench almost immediately. He scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 22 minutes in a 128-101 win Sunday in Dallas. Two nights earlier, he had 14 points and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes in a 122-116 win over the Nuggets. Dallas is 32-28 and tied for sixth in the West.  

“I just sent a text after I saw [Sunday]. I watched a little bit of the comeback against Denver,” Stevens said before Monday’s game against the Jazz. “It was a great game. It was a great win for them. Just saw [Sunday] night and they won looks like pretty handily. As much as you go through with everybody and guys play or don’t play, whatever the case may be, you want everybody that leaves here to do well. So, we’re rooting for him to do well and happy for how he’s started.”  

Stevens still insists it was hard for him to wave goodbye to Lee, who didn’t play at all in his final 18 games in Boston. 

“It was really hard, and it was really hard for him, It’s harder on him than anybody else,” Stevens said. “But we talked about it a lot. We didn’t have hardly any injuries with our bigs and we had a lot of bigs, especially at the end of games, we’re going to be in relatively the same position. It put a lot of guys on the bench, and it was different guys at different times. To his credit, when we eventually settled on playing others, he handled it really well, and kudos to him. I’m happy he’s doing well.”

Lee told reporters over the weekend that part of the reason for his resurgence is that he’s in better game shape than in Boston, where he didn’t play in 21 of his last 22 games. 

“I don’t know if that’s semantics or how he meant to say it,” Stevens said. “I think the biggest thing that he was probably saying there was was that when you’re not playing you have to find other ways to stay ready. Maybe I’m wrong but I think he certainly took diet. He worked out hard. He worked out hard enough that if he would’ve played, he would’ve been gassed in the games. Sometimes, you can’t do that if you’re going to be playing 15 minutes a night. He was going two or three times hard a day during that stretch. So no, I wasn’t frustrated by it. In fact, I thought it set a pretty good example for the other guys who weren’t playing.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Dallas Mavericks, David Lee

Celtics recall James Young in time for Monday tilt vs. Jazz

02.29.16 at 2:35 pm ET
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James Young

James Young

James Young is back in Boston. 

The Celtics announced Monday afternoon prior to their home game against the Jazz at TD Garden that they have recalled the 20-year-old 6-foot-6 guard/forward from the D-League Maine Red Claws.

In the Red Claws’ 132-111 victory against the against the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Sunday, Young scored eight points, grabbed four rebounds, handed out two assists and recorded a block in 18 very active minutes. He has played in eight contests for Maine this season and is averaging 15.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 28.6 minutes per game.

The move could be insurance for Avery Bradley, who turned his ankle in the second half of Saturday’s win over the Heat. The Celtics still have one roster spot open, as they have not filled the void left by the buyout of center David Lee.

This marks Young’s eighth recall to Boston on the season. 

In 22 games for the Celtics this season, he’s averaging 1.2 points and one rebound per contest. He hasn’t played since playing 96 seconds in the 121-101 win over the Nuggets on Feb. 21 in Denver. He hasn’t scored in a game since matching a season-high five points against Washington on Jan. 25 in a 25-point win. 

Read More: Boston Celtics, James Young, Maine Red Claws,

Brad Stevens (with help of Lucky) gets some air for a dunk

02.29.16 at 1:50 pm ET
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@celtics Coach Stevens does it all!! He’s eyeing a spot on next year’s #celticsdunkteam #Celtics #freestyledunking #greenrunsdeep

A video posted by Lucky the Leprechaun (@celticslucky18) on

Low-key Brad Stevens has a wild side to him after all.

On Sunday, Celtics mascot “Lucky” (Kit Ackerman) posted a video on Instagram of the Celtics coach launching himself off a trampoline and dunking the ball at the team’s practice facility in Waltham. It’s not quite the somersault that Lucky performs during games but still to watch the Celtics coach going through the air is something.

He took a running start and jumped with both feet onto the trampoline and completed the one-handed dunk. A clearly concerned – and relieved – Brady Stevens went up and hugged his dad after the completion of the gravity-defying act. 

Why the trampoline? Well, Stevens stands six feet tall and doesn’t have the hops to dunk on his own.

At Zionsville Community High School in Indiana, he became a star basketball player and wore No. 31 in high school in honor of Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller.

Stevens made his varsity team in high school as a freshman with sharp-shooting skills. By the time his high school career was complete, Stevens had set school records for career scoring, assists, steals, and three-point field goals. But he never threatened a rim at Zionsville or Depauw University, where he played college basketball.

File under: White men can jump… off a trampoline.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Lucky,

Brad Stevens: ‘We were pretty locked in defensively most of the [game]’

02.27.16 at 6:43 pm ET
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Brad Stevens knows sometimes the best wins are the ugly ones. 

When he team started out making just seven of 24 shots and falling behind 12 points to the Heat, Saturday’s game felt like it could be an ugly loss. But the Celtics didn’t panic and began to chip away, thanks in large part to Miami’s equally inept ability to take care of the ball. Thirteen Miami turnovers in the first half kept the Celtics in it, as Boston trailed just 49-46. 

Trailing 52-46, the Celtics went on an 11-0 run and led 72-70 after three. They hit the glass in the fourth quarter and rolled to a 101-89 win over the Heat, taking a two-game lead on Miami for third in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics won the game despite making just 39-of-96 shots (40.6 percent), including 7-for-25 from the starting backcourt of Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas

“Hard game to win, hard team to play against, especially when you start out shooting the ball the way we did. But we were pretty locked in defensively most of the [game],” Stevens said after his team’s 35th win of the season. Thomas missed all eight shots he took in the first half and finished just 4-for-17. Bradley wasn’t much better early but did finished 3-for-8. 

“You look at it and two of our leading scorers, Isaiah and Avery, combined for four [points] and our starters were 5-for-26 in the first half,” Stevens said. “So, you’re down three and you feel like you’re lucky as heck to be down three. But again, that’s kind of what this team has been doing. To their credit, it’s easy to let a game, when you’re not playing well, affect you. To their credit, they just kind of stuck with it and stayed the course. All of them made huge plays in the second half, particularly Isaiah making those plays driving to the basket. Jae Crowder made some big plays and I thought Sully was great on the glass. In the last five minutes of the game, I felt like he got every rebound there was.

“I felt like everybody played really hard through that stretch. I felt like Jonas and Tyler held down the fort with a couple of vertical plays in the paint. Jared, it seemed, got every rebound late. I just thought he was really active, finished plays on offense. Multiple times today he caught it at the rim, he recognized that Whiteside was there and he made a play for somebody else. That play at the end of the half, he kicked it out, extra pass to Avery. That was a heck of a play and a huge play for us. He’s got a good awareness and he’s a smart guy and he’s a heck of a rebounder.”

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