Brad Stevens is similar to Boston Celtics fans in that he sits back and marvels at the development of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
The two young stars have continued to excel for the Celtics despite their young age. They set franchise history marks as recently as Monday’s Game 1 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
While the duo’s offense is perhaps most visible to fans — Tatum scored 32 points, Brown 29 of his own Monday — the head coach is more impressed by their defense. And while speaking on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak and Bertrand on Wednesday, Stevens explained how teammate Marcus Smart has played a role in that.
“… We talk a lot about development. Development is not just minutes in a game, it’s the type of game, how hard it is, what the expectations of every possession are,” Stevens told the radio station. “If your expectation on every possession is you have to win the next possession because it might be the difference in the game, then you have to play both ends and you have to play it hard. You got to play it well. So, those guys (Brown, Tatum) have always been committed to that. They were both a little bit better than I thought when we drafted them, once they got here. And they’ve continuously improved. I thought Marcus Smart’s contagiousness is probably a big part of that.
“… I think our guys benefit from his leadership by example,” Stevens continued. “And everybody is going to hold each other accountable if you have that.”
The Celtics have built a 1-0 series lead over Philadelphia in large part because of the two-way play by Tatum and Brown, as well as the defensive intensity from Smart. Stevens is hoping it’s something that will continue throughout the remainder of the series.
“We need to keep doing it,” Stevens said. “We can’t leave our bigs on an island right now. Nobody is going to guard (Joel) Embiid by himself. We can’t guard (Al) Horford by ourselves in a lot of these matchups. We got to really help each other and we got to all take respsonibility in making every possession tough. And so, we can’t just put that on one or two guys. That’s got to be five guys on every possession.”
The Celtic and Sixers will return to the floor Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET in Orlando.