Brad Stevens, Coaching Resource

(AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

Ian Thomsen, NBA (

“I like our progress, but I like to win,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens was saying Sunday after Boston had been swept in the opening round of the NBA playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers. “So I’m disappointed right now. We have to get better in every which way, and that’s the challenge ahead. Because winning is a lot more fun.”

“He looked us all in the eye and told us that we’d acted like we didn’t really trust each other,” said Avery Bradley, the Celtics’ fifth-year guard, of the halftime speech that he and his teammates received from Stevens while trailing 57-36 in Game 4 on Sunday. “He said we were pulling apart from each other, and the only way we were going to win is if we pulled together and got out of ourselves and started worrying about the team. That was what we needed to hear.”

The way Stevens built up the program at Butler is the same way he and team president Danny Ainge are going to rebuild the Celtics. They won’t be begging so much as they will be offering players an opportunity to reach for the highest standard. Most NBA stars won’t be inspired by the invitation. But a few — old-school competitors who share something in common with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce — will look up to the 17 championship banners and want to connect to the tradition.

“This is why I’m glad we played the Cavs,” Stevens said after his Celtics’ season-ending 101-93 loss. “Because you’re going to be chasing that level of player, to figure out how to stop them or how to make it more difficult on them.”

Even after watching his young players threaten the Cavs before landing agonizingly short, Stevens was returning to his hotel room in Cleveland or to his new home in Boston, where he lives with his wife Tracy and their two children, and falling fast asleep. “Because I am so process-oriented, I go home as quickly as I can,” Stevens said. “I’m not one of these guys that can stay up until 3 in the morning and get up at 5. I’ll go to bed, and then I’ll get up at 6:30 or 7 and start watching (video). That’s how I best work. I’m not a late-night guy.”

“One of my biggest regrets in coaching was my eighth or ninth game of my career,” Stevens said. “I was wound up about a conference game in December — I was wound up tight, and we ended up playing really tight. Our players were bickering with the officials, I was bickering … and then all of a sudden we lose. We didn’t play well, and I blame that on my approach to the game. So I’ve tried not to be that way as much as possible.”

“I’ve seen how close the bounces go your way, and you get to live the ultimate. We had a couple bounces go our way, and now we’re in two Final Fours,” Stevens said. “We could be as great as we were, and a couple of things don’t go our way — and we’re not. And that story is never told. And I think since then I’m not fearful of it not working. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I’m doing my best job, and that I put in everything I can, and I give everything to these guys. But I’m not losing sleep over living in fear. I’m just not doing it.”

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