With the 2nd round of NBA playoffs comfortably underway, we take a moment to acknowledge 2 superstars who deserve lots of credit for their team’s early success. The impact these individuals have on their team is the primary driving force for their team’s first round wins. These individuals are often overshadowed by big performances from superstar players, but not anymore. It’s time we acknowledge just how good Brad Stevens, head coach of the Boston Celtics, and Quin Snyder, head coach of the Utah Jazz are for their respective teams.
For Brad Stevens, it seems nothing more needs to be said than the Celtics won their series without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who both missed the entire series. Recently, even rising star Jaylen Brown had to sit out Game 1 against the 76ers, which the Celtics won anyway. Despite losing their two best players for the entire series, Boston managed to beat a fully loaded Milwaukee Bucks team. It is a testament to Brad Stevens’s coaching ability to take a group of seemingly inexperienced and middle tier players through a grueling 7 game series and come out with enough in the tank to win Game 1 and 2 of the second round against a well rested and more talented opponent.
Brad Stevens has ensured that his team approaches each game with poise and confidence; staying humble after going up 2-0 against the Bucks and maintaining composure after allowing the Bucks to comeback and tie the series 2-2. The control that Brad Stevens has on the pulse of his team allows the Celtics to execute perfect game plans against better teams. The Celtics also defend as a team instead of relying on individuals to take on the team’s defensive responsibilities. Stevens is one of the best coaches at drawing up in-bound plays off of timeouts and game breaks. Stevens has crafted a team that makes us wonder how much further the C’s could have gone had their stars stayed healthy. Stevens has established himself as the best coach in the eastern conference and is certainly deserving of Coach of the Year honors.
Quin Snyder has guided the Utah Jazz to an equally, if not more impressive playoff start. The Jazz managed to completely dismantle the Oklahoma City Thunder winning the first round series in 6 games. Again one of the most impressive aspects about the Jazz is their approach to every game. After Ricky Rubio torched Russell Westbrook in game 3 putting up a triple double on Mr. triple double himself, Westbrook took it upon himself to “shut that shit down” the following game.
However, in stepping up his individual defensive intensity against Ricky Rubio, Westbrook played right into the Jazz’s hands. Rubio spent the next game heavily involved in passing and running around the floor causing Westbrook to tire himself out and not be available on the offensive end. The trap Westbrook fell in is the exact situation that Quin Snyder does not allow his team to fall victim to. Quin ensured that even though individual Jazz players had good games, the game plan for the following game didn’t suddenly shift to a heavy dose of that individual.
Snyder’s team was ranked atop the league in defense during the regular season and it appears as though the Jazz defense has accompanied the team for its post season run too. Although Rudy Gobert does stand out as the team’s best defender, he is by no means the only capable defender. Rookie sensations, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles, have established themselves as capable starting players who can produce big on both sides of the ball.
Ingles especially impressed with his ability to minimize Paul George’s effectiveness by playing tight defense and matching him on the offense end. Quin has done an excellent job preparing his team for the challenges they face every night. He also has creative game plans that the team has bought into and is executing to perfection. With the early playoff success Snyder has established himself as a member of the top tier of NBA coaches and has put himself into the conversation of the current top 3 western conference coaches along with Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr.
Both Brad Stevens and Quin Snyder have reminded us of the significance of a competent head coach. They have both crafted a blueprint that has allowed teams with significantly less talent to upset more famed opponents. Stevens and Snyder are two refreshing young star coaches in a league saturated with familiar faces and old-fashioned systems. Both coaches are well deserving of Coach of the Year, as their teams have far exceeded expectations considering the injuries (Celtics) and star losses to trades (Jazz).
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