Watch CBS News

Stevens: Smart's Energy Infectious, Can Impact Game Regardless Of Output

BOSTON (CBS) - Celtics head coach Brad Stevens joined 98.5 The Sports Hub's Gresh & Zolak program for his weekly interview Friday afternoon, with the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy filling in for Andy Gresh.

On Monday night in Washington, the Celtics climbed back from a 23-point deficit to force overtime but were unable to beat the Wizards in double overtime.

Rajon Rondo, among other starters, found himself on the bench for the final 27 minutes of the contest. The All Star point guard was benched midway through the third quarter and never found his way back to the floor in the loss, the second time in as many weeks that Rondo has found himself on the bench during a pivotal stretch.

Celtics @ 7: What To Make Of Rondo's Benchings

"It wasn't a tough decision, and it wasn't because of Rajon or any of the other starters that didn't go back in. [Jared Sullinger] didn't play much after that, Avery Bradley played maybe a couple possessions defensively as a sub and then Tyler Zeller didn't really go back in either," said the second-year NBA coach.

"We were just riding a bench that got hot and got us back into a game. I think anytime you've been in the coaching shoes, and then in the playing shoes, you recognize that. Rajon recognizes that; he was great on the bench. It's pretty evident when you go to the film and watch the bench that he, Gerald Wallace and the other guys on the bench were going nuts. It was a fun atmosphere to be a part of, to be honest."

The inability to close out games and win in the fourth quarter is a common trait for young, inexperienced teams. But Brad Stevens is encouraged by his squad's improvement in that area.

"It's frustrating, but as I look around the league other teams have similar frustrations. There's a lot of close games in this league," said Stevens. "Each game is a little bit different. It is frustrating, but I do think we're getting better."

Ainge: Celtics Have To Find Ways To Finish Games

Big man Tyler Zeller has started the last seven games for the Green, but as Stevens noted, "When you're 7-13 you always have to be ready to change," so he doesn't expect to settle on a regular starting five "especially when our second unit is playing as well as they're playing."

Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics poses for a portrait during the 2014 NBA rookie photo shoot. (Photo by Brian Babineau /NBAE via Getty Images)

Celtics first round draft pick (6th overall) Marcus Smart went down against Indiana on November 7 with a severe ankle sprain and bone bruise after awkwardly stepping on a defender's foot while driving to the basket, which caused him to miss the next 10 games -- Boston went 2-8 with Smart sidelined.

Brad Stevens is glad to have him back.

"[Smart] is a really good basketball player. He's got great athletic ability, he's strong, but his no. 1 attribute is that he raises the energy level of everybody in the building, and he always has to remember that," Stevens said of the rookie.

"No matter how he's playing -- if he has 23 points in a night or zero in a night, he has the chance to impact our team positively. That's a rare guy that has that ability just from an infectious standpoint. We need that from him every single night."

But more importantly, how's the ankle?

"I do think he's getting healthier, but like a lot of young guys he's going to have nights like Monday (23 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals) and nights like Wednesday (0 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals). Hopefully he gets more consistent sooner rather than later."

Listen below for the full interview:


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.