Home Featured Banner

Brad Stevens Previews Celtics NBA Playoffs Run

BOSTON — Brad Stevens spoke for the first time since the Celtics signed Jrue Holiday to a contract extension on Tuesday, holding an impromptu press conference five days from the NBA Playoffs. Ahead of a critical moment for the franchise, he praised the job Joe Mazzulla did this year, explained why Boston acted now to retain Holiday long-term and expressed optimism toward keeping his back court mate Derrick White in green.

“I can’t talk about much with things that we’re not allowed to discuss until July 1,” Stevens said. “But Derrick has had an amazing year. Derrick is a huge, huge part of our team and we want him around for as long as we can keep him around.”

The Celtics and Holiday agreed to a four-year, $135 million extension earlier this month after the guard became eligible for a new deal on Apr. 1. White and Boston can’t negotiate until the summer, when he’ll become open to a new deal through the end of his current one, which expires at the end of the 2024-25 season. That two-year window limited the urgency to close on a contract last summer, and CBA limitations (allowing him to sign for roughly 4yr, $120M) could hinder efforts to lock up White this summer. Considering Stevens and White’s comments over the past year, motivation seems to exist on both sides to keep him around.

First, this group will have to affirm its ability to win, the Holiday extension in part an effort to extend the team’s window in the near future. A combination of repeater tax and second apron penalties will make it difficult to keep the Celtics together annually beginning in 2025-26, when Jayson Tatum will inevitably begin a super max extension with Boston. That raised questions about White’s future with the team. Stevens considered the Holiday move a bridge between Holiday’s two-way impact he provides and the mentorship he’ll continue to give the team’s younger players like Jordan Walsh.

“Jrue came here, joined our team and all he tried to do is add to win. For a guy who is as accomplished as he is, that is as used to more usage, more reps, more touches,” Stevens said. “All that came into play was what kind of a teammate am I being and can I help us win? … also the fact that he can play off the ball and be as effective as he’s been, I just think it shows another layer of what a guy can do … as you look at a person like him and you think about the long term of a group, you think, obviously, you need really good players and guys that can play on both ends of the court. You also want people that young players can look up to and he is a person they should look up to, and certainly do look up to.”

Stevens didn’t consider a 64-win season a given despite the talent Boston brought into camp. He placed credit for that, in part, on Mazzulla’s ability to instill a message to a team capable of playing on that level at both ends. The team’s desire to be part of something bigger than themselves, he said, also played into that and became obvious in the opening days of training camp. So the fourth-best year in franchise history didn’t surprise him, he only wanted to stress how difficult it is to get there.

The playoff run will be difficult too, he asserted, beginning round one whether Boston draws Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago or Atlanta following Wednesday and Friday’s play-in round. He expects the mix of playoff experience and some of the freshness younger players bring to their first postseason run as important too. Payton Pritchard projects to step into a significant playoff bench role for the first time in his career to finish his fourth NBA season.

Stevens also explained the team’s decision to sign Neemias Queta to the 15th roster spot. A move that doesn’t project to impact the postseason much, but considered him another young bench piece that can improve into the future and help sustain an increasingly expensive roster. When asked, his description of ownership’s commitment to spend hasn’t changed. Green light. Whatever it takes.

As for rumors he could return to college to fill potential openings in his home state of Indiana, Stevens smiled and laughed.

“I don’t get into any of the rumor stuff,” Stevens said. “I got a heck of an opportunity here. We’ve been here 11 years now and gotten a chance to see this team do a lot of cool things and go a long way. Our goals have been the same since we moved here. We’d like to get over that hump. So I’ve got plenty enough to do right now rather than think about all that.”

Bobby Manning

Boston Celtics beat reporter for CLNS Media and host of the Garden Report Celtics Post Game Show. NBA national columnist for Boston Sports Journal. Contributor to SB Nation's CelticsBlog. Host of the Dome Theory Sports and Culture Podcast on CLNS. Syracuse University 2020.

Recent Posts

Celtics vs Pacers Eastern Conference Finals Preview and Predictions

Aaron Nesmith lined up a game-tying attempt from three against the Celtics on Jan. 30 in…

11 hours ago

Observations From Day 1 of Patriots Open OTAs

The Patriots' veterans and rookies took the field today for the first session of organized…

14 hours ago

Rafael Devers Extends Homer Streak to Five Games

The Red Sox lose a series in St Louis to the Cardinals. Joey Copponi and…

15 hours ago

Celtics Praise and a Nuggets-Timberwolves Game 7 | Bob Ryan & Jeff Goodman Podcast

Bob Ryan and Gary Tanguay discuss the Celtics' dominant Game 5 win over the Cleveland…

3 days ago

Joe Mazzulla Says Communication Made Celtics Different This Year

Joe Mazzulla finally addressed a question he and the Celtics’ players mostly shook off all…

3 days ago

Exclusive Interview with WR Specialist Steph Brown

On this episode of the Patriots Daily podcast, Taylor Kyles is joined by wide receiver…

3 days ago