Celtics' Stevens learns how to lose

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 16, 2013 - 11:22 PM

Former Butler coach Brad Stevens has had to adjust to the pro game, particularly learning how to lose often as coach of the Boston Celtics. He lost his first four games, only to win the next four before falling twice since then going into Saturday night’s game.

Photo: Elise Amendola • Associated Press,

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The jump from coaching to college to the NBA is a big one. There is the speed of the game, dealing with men rather than college kids, the ebb and flow of a very long season.

And learning to lose. Boston rookie coach Brad Stevens — hired after a very successful six-year run as head coach at Butler —brought his Celtics into Saturday’s game at Target Center with six losses, which is as many or more losses than he suffered in three of his six years in college.

“You get a great appreciation for how good the teams are,” said Stevens of the process of playing and scouting NBA opponents.

“In college, you’re always on edge about the next game. But certainly there are games that are more winnable than others. In this league, if you don’t play well, you’re going to get beat.’’

Stevens, 37, is the youngest coach in the league. He was hired, and given a six-year deal to help rebuild the Celtics, who purged much of their roster — and even traded coach Doc Rivers — after last season and are retooling from the ground up.

Stevens many look younger than some of his players, but his calm demeanor and focus on team-oriented basketball already seems to be bearing at least some fruit.

Boston opened the season with four consecutive losses, but then reeled off four wins in a row, including a one-point victory at Miami Nov. 9. Boston has lost twice since.

By doing so he became the second NBA head coach to lose his first four (or more) game, then immediately follow that with a winning streak that brought his team back to .500.

The other one? Current Wolves coach Rick Adelman, who did it as an interim head coach in Portland when he replaced Mike Schuler in February of 1989.

Adelman, the oldest coach in the league at age 67, said a college coach can succeed in the NBA, but it takes time.

“The games are different,” Adelman said. “The games are very fast-paced. It’s a players’ league, youv’e got to figure that out. The length of the season and the travel is really a crucial part of it. How do you get the players to respond to that, how do you get through the year, how do you not get impatient?’’

Most college coaches inherit teams like Boston, which are rebuilding. Adelman was the exception. He took over a good team that reached the NBA finals in his first full season as head coach.

Chase returns

Since knee surgery Oct. 1, Wolves forward Chase Budinger has been rehabbing in Florida. No more. Budinger, back in town, was at Target Center before the game greeting his teammates. His return is still a ways off; he has not yet been cleared for basketball activity.

“It’s good to see him,” Adelman said.


After Saturday’s game, the Wolves’ fifth in seven nights, the team will have two days off for the first time all season.

“The good thing is we get to practice Monday and leave again,” Adelman said.

• Shabazz Muhammad missed a second game because of a sprained ankle.

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