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Long Way To Go: Brad Stevens Says Cleveland Series A Learning Experience For Young Celtics

BOSTON (CBS) - Celtics head coach Brad Stevens phoned in to 98.5 The Sports Hub for his weekly interview with Zolak & Bertrand on Friday afternoon. Stevens talked about the season that was and what lies ahead for this Celtics team.

While the focus of most fans might be on that playoff series sweep by Cleveland, Stevens is viewing this past season through the lens of a much broader scope.

"This is the time to just kind of organize your thoughts and take a big picture look of everything. That's 50 percent of what I'm doing. The other 50 percent is I'm really trying to dissect and scrutinize how our system of play -- both defensively and offensively -- [and] see what we like and see what we want to change moving forward," Stevens told the midday show.

While the C's were unable to get a win against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, they were able to hang tough and never suffered a blowout loss (unlike Milwaukee in Game 6 vs. Chicago). The silver lining, from a Boston standpoint, is that the Celtics were able to measure themselves against one of the league's best, and figure out the areas that need improvement.

"I think the biggest thing that you takeaway is we certainly saw some things and some guys that are capable of playing at a high level against the very best. The best part about playing the Cavaliers is you feel you have a chance to evaluate yourselves against a team that is really good, and could potentially represent the East [in the NBA Finals] and could potentially win it all. When you get a chance to do that, especially with a young team, you learn a lot," said Stevens.

"We had a lot of guys that showed they could really play in that series. Now, we didn't do that consistently enough. Part of that is youth, and we can get better. Part of that is we've got to commit to getting better at some of our weaknesses and managing those, and get great at our strengths. Then part of it is we may need to evaluate and make small changes moving forward from a personnel standpoint. At the end of the day there's a lot of positives to take away from [that series]. But we still have a long way to go."

Stevens emphasized shooting consistency and the ability to rebound as Boston's biggest weaknesses against Cleveland, which is something the team will likely try to address this summer.

On the Kelly Olynyk play that injured Kevin Love, Stevens wished the Cavaliers forward a speedy recovery, but came to the defense of his player on the accusation that it was a "bush league play" as Love described it.

"I know Kelly really well. I've had the chance to spend the last two years with him. I'm around him every day. I think this would be echoed by anyone that has spent a large amount of time with him, that he would be the last person that would intend to harm or injure someone. I don't think he intended to harm or injure Kevin. I think he was trying to pull him away from the ball; he clearly fouled him. That's my impression of it."

Stevens also talked about whether he sees Isaiah Thomas as a starter or bench player and shared his general thoughts on the offseason ahead.

"I would say based on my experience with the Celtics over the last 19 months, the most predictable thing is unpredictability," Stevens said of the offseason. "Who knows? I think the biggest thing is that we're trying to improve ourselves."

Listen below for the full interview:

98.5 The Sports Hub is your flagship radio station of the Boston Celtics!

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