Brad Stevens is lauded as a coaching savant, but his brilliance on the sideline can at times be more subtle than overwhelmingly obvious.
Boston took a practically insurmountable 3-0 lead in the second round series on the strength of Stevens’ late-game coaching, which included two beautiful play calls after timeouts.
The first came at the end of regulation when the Celtics were down by two with 26 seconds left.
With Philadelphia switching on all screens, Stevens drew up a play in which all five Boston players were near the 3-point line, leaving the paint wide open when Jaylen Brown set a back pick, only to dive to the basket where he received a lob and finished a contested layup.
Brad Stevens BRILLIANT End of Game SOB to tie the game: pic.twitter.com/hOdp2aNXRJ— Half Court Hoops (@HalfCourtHoops) May 5, 2018
The second crucial play call came with the Celtics down by one and 8.4 seconds left in overtime.
The 76ers switched on screens again, which Stevens capitalised on again by drawing Robert Covington onto Al Horford in the paint. Horford shielded Covington from the basket, caught the overhead lob and finished a point-blank look that would be the game-winner.
BRAD STEVENS GENIUS End of Game Again: pic.twitter.com/mgJnJlOlKZ— Half Court Hoops (@HalfCourtHoops) May 5, 2018
Afterward, Stevens’ players credited their coach’s ingenuity.
“Brad is a genius, man. Unbelievable,” Horford told ESPN immediately after Boston’s victory. “Sometimes he draws stuff up, and I look at it, I’m like [confused]. But Marcus [Morris] delivered it, great pass, I missed some shots that I normally make there, but I made that one, so it was good.”
Morris added: “That man Brad Stevens is a guru. He might have the best out-of-bounds plays I’ve ever seen. He called the switch [that got Horford on Covington] and knew it was going to happen.”
Stevens has deservedly earned credit for a multitude of reasons and his after-timeout plays are just one factor in why he’s been so successful as a coach.
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