The Celtics are struggling right now. They have a long way to go before they can justify the high expectations they have for themselves and that others have put upon them. Where have we seen this before? I think a few examples are right in front of us.
The Boston Red Sox are headed to the World Series. The New England Patriots are regularly in the Super Bowl. Now the Celtics have an opportunity to rejoin that elite group. Brad Stevens is known to take lessons from other successful coaches, regardless of the sport.
Stevens arrives at Patriots practice with pen and paper at least once almost every season, including twice last year. He studies how Belichick runs drills, sits in on the team meeting, and follows McDaniels from film session to film session. Stevens leaves with a full notebook every time, juiced, like a man who might get an endorphin rush from running a mathematical Olympics.
“He came home with lots of notes and lots of thoughts and was fascinated by how they run their logistics,” says Tracy Stevens. “He was really energized by it. That’s the thing about them; they love learning.”
One lesson that the Celtics can take from the Patriots is to not overreact to early season struggles. If anything, these early struggles can be a point of emphasis, driving home the message that the staff has been preaching all offseason and preseason.
Things don’t always gel for New England in the first few weeks. Hard lessons are learned, roles are established, poor performers are corrected or filtered out. By the end of the year things are typically going in a positive direction. Like a boulder rolling downhill, it is hard to stop their momentum.
Brad Stevens knows that no matter how much talent the team has, there are still lessons that need to be learned early in the season. The team has said all the right things, but hasn’t looked very solid on the court. Still, there’s so much talent here that I have to believe that this Celtics team will figure things out as they go along.
Likewise Brad Stevens enjoys watching the Red Sox and has gained some inspiration from watching their run to the World Series.
“They’ve always rebounded when something tough has happened, and we’ve used those guys as examples quite a bit… They’ve set a great example for us as we move into the new year.”
The Celtics will have ups and downs this season, but the true test of the team’s character will be in how they overcome the down times and carry themselves during the good times.
There are other similarities as well. All three clubs rely upon a mix of veterans and younger players. All are focused on the fundamentals of teamwork. All have the talent and makeup to make a run at a championship this year. (Yes, I’m aware that the Bruins won a Stanley Cup in 2011 as well.)
Boston area fans have certainly been spoiled for the last couple of decades. I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to hang in there and be patient for the good times yet to come.
Similarly, as we watch the Celtics struggle through some early season hiccups, perhaps we can remember to not overreact to the many peaks and valleys of a long season.