The Celtics will enter the 2018/19 season widely viewed as the odds-on favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. However, during an appearance at the ABCD Hoop Dreams fundraiser on Tuesday, head coach Brad Stevens said he doesn’t want his players entering the season even taking for granted that they’ll be a playoff team, let alone a title contender.
“Nobody’s played a game yet; nobody’s lost a game yet,” Stevens said, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. “We have to go back and earn all that.”
Besides addressing expectations for the Celtics in 2018/19, Stevens touched on a number of other topics of note, including the perception that Boston’s depth could work against the team by limiting playing time for veterans who believe they’ve earned more minutes. Here, via Blakely, are a few of the highlights from Stevens:
On concerns over whether there are enough minutes to go around:
“We have a really good locker room. It’s no secret to anybody that there’s 240 minutes in a game. (It’s) human nature of being disappointed if you’re taken out — that’s OK. But if we struggle with that, we won’t be pretty good. If we don’t (struggle with that), we have a chance to be pretty good.”
On whether he has a plan in mind for the Celtics’ rotation:
“I’m more focused on how we want to play and not necessarily how we’re going to rotate. Things can change, your rotation can change in a heartbeat. Bottom line is, we have an idea of who will play together and who best fits together. But we’ll see how it all shakes itself out.”
On Daniel Theis and the other injured Celtics:
“I’ve been told that everybody is gonna be ready to go. Daniel was in the gym this morning. He looks great. He has not been cleared for 5-on-5 play yet, but the anticipation is he will by the start of training camp, September 25.
“(Gordon Hayward) looks good. I saw him a couple weeks ago in San Diego. I went out there and watched him work out. He looked really good. … He’ll be cleared to (play) some 5-on-5 like very, very soon, anytime soon.”
On bringing back Marcus Smart after an extended restricted free agency:
“Marcus knows how we all feel. Restricted free agency is restricted free agency; there’s pluses and minuses to that. Obviously, we’re thrilled to have him back for a long time. … We went into free agency hoping that would be the case. And we all know what Marcus brings to the table. I keep going back and one of the moments where you have chills when you reflect back on a season was when he entered the game against Milwaukee and the first thing he did was dive on the floor. Everybody says they want it and want to do that type of stuff. He’s a guy that does it every day. We appreciate the way he competes. We love having him around. I’m glad he’s here for the long term.”