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Celani: Honeymoon Stage Over For Brad Stevens?

BOSTON (CBS) - Despite the decade-plus period of unprecedented regional sustained sports success, fans around these parts are smart enough to know how tough it is to win championships -- even more so in the NBA.

After years of mediocrity, heartbreak and Rick Pitino, it took the winningest franchise in league history 22 years to generate the right amount of luck and muster up enough pieces to build a NBA Finals-worthy roster, one that culminated in a championship in 2008 and another Finals appearance in 2010.

But the Big Three era is over. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Doc Rivers are long gone, and C's fans are once again faced with the harsh reality that another 22 year championship (and relevancy) drought is possible.

Year 1 of the rebuild was rough, but certainly expected, and the majority of the fan base including myself felt encouraged with head coach Brad Stevens at the helm for the next six years, someone who could help usher in a new era of Green greatness.

After all Stevens took Butler, a Horizon League university with less than 5,000 students, to the Final Four in back-to-back-years, and is considered one of the best young coaching minds in the sport.

If he could transform the Butler Bulldogs in six seasons, he's certainly at least up for the same task in the NBA.

In Year 2 of the rebuild, the Celtics are 4-11, in the midst of a five-game losing streak and have lost eight of their last 10 games. But the losses in and of itself don't bother me as much as how they're occurring.

We gave Stevens a free pass last year and deservedly so. He was put in an unfamiliar situation coaching for the first time in the pros, and had to manage a roster without their All Star point guard for most of the season.

But after blowing another huge lead last night in Atlanta, I think it's fair to start examining Brad Stevens with a more critical eye.

This trend of squandering double digit leads is absurd, and a bit tiring to be honest.

This is just the last month:

- Blew a 16-point lead to Toronto (lost by 3)

- Blew a 15-point lead to Oklahoma City (lost by 15)

- Blew a 19-point lead to Cleveland (lost by 1)

- Blew a 16-point lead to Chicago (lost by 7)

- Blew a 23-point lead to Atlanta (lost by 4)

But these problems date back further than just last month.

Check out the stats provided Tuesday night by Celtics play-by-play man Sean Grande:

That's insane.

We know the team lacks talent, and we know the team lacks somebody to take the last shot at the end of the game.

But this trend has got to end.

We gave Brad Stevens a free pass in Year 1 -- that was the honeymoon stage, the period of the relationship where you're blissfully unaware (or willfully neglect) to notice the faults in one another.

The honeymoon stage is always the easiest. Marriage is the hard part.

In this marriage we expect winning, not blowing double-digit leads.

Read more from Andrew Celani by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @ACE_Worldwide.


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