BOSTON – New Celtics coach Brad Stevens held his first pre-game press conference of his NBA career Monday night before the Celtics hosted the Toronto Raptors in their preseason opener. It was Stevens’ first time in the Garden as the Celtics coach, so he needed some help finding his way around.
“One of our support staff members rolled with me,” Stevens said. “That was helpful. I did come early, but I wanted to come early. It’s kind of nice to be here; get here by yourself and close that door and go to work.”
Being a rookie head coach, it’s just logical to assume that there might be some first-night jitters. When asked, Stevens brushed aside the idea that he was nervous.
“No, not really,” he said. “I’m anxious to see how we play, anxious to see how we compete and do all the little things. Play against somebody else.
“I think the biggest thing is having the opportunity to get some film against somebody else right now. That’ll be nice.”
Stevens needs all the scouting on his own team that he can get, as he has plenty of new pieces to mix and match. While the Celtics have had a consistent core in their starting lineup for the better half of a decade, this year will be multiple attempts to throw lineups at the wall and wait for one to stick. But the difference between the first and second units is miniscule.
“First of all, there’s not separation [between the starters and the bench players],” Stevens said. “There’s not clear-cut separation at hardly any position. But there are a few guys that have been here before and I’m also just trying combinations.
“You know, yesterday I thought the Wallace-Olynyk-Sullinger combination was especially effective in some of the things that we were doing. Whether you start or come off the bench, it doesn’t really matter to me. And I talked to them about it and they weren’t’ overly concerned about it either.
“I’m more concentered about combinations right now than who is playing when.”
Whatever the combination may be, Stevens has a whole preseason to experiment. The real question is whether that experiment will yield any results come November.