Bereft of his leading scorer, no one would have blamed Celtics coach Brad Stevens for getting swept out of the Eastern Conference Finals. Instead, Stevens and his team achieved a stunning Game 3 win, and led at halftime in Game 4. It was not exactly the straightforward playoff exit that was foreseen.
The Cavs have taken notice of Stevens’ ability to make effective adjustments. Following Game 4, LeBron James was asked about the difference in the Celtics with Isaiah Thomas vs. without him. His answer was complementary of Stevens:
Yeah, like I say, we game planned — because their series went to [Game] 7 we game planned for both teams, and they’re a different team when IT is — I won’t say a different team, they run different things just because of IT being a huge piece of the puzzle for them offensively. So they had to kind of reshape, and that’s the beauty of having Brad Stevens as your coach. You’re able to reshape what you do offensively and still be in a good rhythm. It’s been challenging for us to kind of — plays out of time-out, kind of been killing us on ATOs and keeping us off balance, but in the second half we kind of got a little bit of rhythm, and think we’ll be better in Game 5.
And Kyrie Irving also credited Stevens for the problems that the Celtics have caused the Cavs: