Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has received some heat for his honest opinion of arguably the highest-ceilinged team in all of basketball, the Brooklyn Nets.
Riding the coattails of Jayson Tatum’s 50-point explosion in the play-in round, the Cs have booked their ticket to the postseason, locking down the No. 7 seed in the East. Boston will kick off their playoff run in Brooklyn on Saturday as they enter the first-round as major underdogs against the No. 2 seeded Nets.
Asked by reporters about the difficulties of taking down a star-studded team such as the Nets, Stevens’ response didn’t exactly ooze with confidence in his Celtics.
“We’ll do our best to get ready for Brooklyn,” Stevens said, via Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith. “They’re the best of the best. As a fan of the NBA, it’s hard to see those guys losing. We’re going to have to play great and play great together.”
Stevens’ take could simply be chalked up to being a realist. The fact of the matter is his Cs are without the services of all-star Jaylen Brown and have lost all three matchups against the Nets this season by an average of 15 points. Or maybe, it was more of a strategic approach of under-promising, over-delivering. Either way, his comments did not sit well with former Celtic turned ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins.
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Perkins: ‘If You Love Brooklyn That Much — Go Coach Them’
Joining ESPN’s First Take, Perkins used a question by moderator Molly Qerim on whether Celtics players should feel motivated or embarrassed by Stevens’ comments, as the perfect segway to unload on the head coach.
“Brad Stevens, if you love Brooklyn that much, why don’t you go coach them? Go join the coaching staff,” said Perkins. “Listen, I played for the Boston Celtics for eight-and-a-half years. I know the definition of ‘the City of Champions.’ They have something that’s called Celtic pride. That wasn’t Celtic pride.”
Perkins continued on, as the former 14-year NBA veteran soured at the thought of ever suiting up to take the court under Stevens.
“And no, I wouldn’t want to play with Brad Stevens,” he proclaimed. “How can I go to war with a coach that is sitting up here praising and glorifying an opponent that I possibly could upset? How about saying ‘Hey, we’re going to be prepared, we’re going to be ready. I know you’re crowning them, but I got enough, and we’re going to come to compete.’ How about saying that, Brad Stevens. I mean, god damn. Wyc Grousbeck [Majority owner of the Celtics], Steve Pagliuca [co-owner], Danny Ainge, my guys, this is what we’ve come to?”
Perkins: ‘It’s Completely Unacceptable’
As touched on above, Jaylen Brown’s absence from the Celtics’ lineup is a seismic loss, especially against such a high-octane team as the Nets. With that said, Perkins believes Stevens should show more faith in the healthy talent he has at his disposal.
“Hearing from the whole Boston area, they like Big Perk, Brad is just a good guy, he’s just soft-spoken — it’s not in his demeanor. What? What are we talking about? We trying to win championships. Get some fire up under you,” Perkins stated. “Right now you should be telling the team ‘let’s go shock the world.’ You got Jayson Tatum, a man that just dropped 50-points the other night in a crucial moment. You still got Kemba Walker. You still got some guys that can go out there and compete and compete in the series with the Brooklyn Nets.”
“It was just disturbing. I’ve tried to get down with Brad because I think he’s good with x’s and o’s, but this right here took me over the top,” he admitted. “A lot of people may not like what I said, but I don’t really don’t give a damn, that was just disturbing to hear. Here I am about to go to war in the series and I hear my coach going on there and praising, and giving flowers like he wants to be part of the coaching staff of the Brooklyn Nets. It’s completely unacceptable.”