Kobe Bryant is considered one of the smartest NBA players of his time, but even the Los Angeles Lakers legend is floored by the basketball genius that is Brad Stevens.
Stevens put on a coaching masterclass Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center, guiding the Boston Celtics to a thrilling overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 3 of the teams’ second-round NBA playoff series.
As has been the case since his arrival in Boston, Stevens was at his best in crunch time. With the Celtics trailing by one late in the overtime period, the C’s head coach drew up a perfect after-timeout play for Al Horford, who scored the go-ahead basket with 5.5 seconds remaining in OT.
During an appearance on Fox Sports Radio’s “Chris & Caron Show,” Bryant gushed over Stevens’ feel for the game while reacting to the Celtics coach’s Game 3 performance.
“I think he observes a lot better,” Bryant said, as transcribed by Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Mannix. “He observes the game, the flow of the game. And tendencies. He can look at players and their tendencies. And then you can file that away.
“That last play (in Game 3), I had to laugh. He just pulled everybody up. It was prime misdirection. Al Horford just held … he just vacated the backside. If you simply put everybody there, it’s a dead giveaway for what’s going to happen. He used Philly’s aggressiveness and youth against them. He knew they were going to be aggressive defensively, he knew they were going to overplay, and now you have Horford on the backside. He’s able to look at the game and make adjustments on the fly. He’s a great coach, man.”
“To be able to see the game like that requires a lot of film study. Watching film over and over and over. Studying over and over and over. To then be able to observe things in real time. That can only be done by a person who has that level of commitment to the game. Which I’m sure he does.”
It’s safe to say Stevens does his homework, which is a leading factor in Boston being one win away from the Eastern Conference finals.