Egads. What next– angry villagers coming down on the TD Garden with pitchforks and torches? It has actually only taken a bit less than eight years, however lastly it might be that Stevens’ honeymoon in the Boston area, which has actually remained in full blush given that he was plucked from the mid-major NCAA powerhouse he developed, is ending.

The headline, in the Boston Globe, specified that the “cool lineups” used by Stevens in the team’s video game versus the Spurs the previous night, “may have cost,” the Celtics a win. It’s not precisely a slobberknocker of a headline, but by the requirement of treatment Stevens typically gets in this town– ranging from applauding to radiant to fawning– it is encouraging.

Stevens is treated, too typically, as if he is an Xs and Os savant, running rings around other leading coaches in the NBA. That is not the fact of Stevens, who is a great coach, but one with flaws, like any other. And that’s what’s odd about the big dig the regional media handled Stevens as the Celtics bungled today. He is finally getting knocked, but this time, it is for something which is not his fault.

Make no error, it is Danny Ainge’s fault. If Stevens is trotting out cool lineups, it is due to the fact that he has an absolutely bland set of reserve players on hand. Possibly the most significant criticism of Stevens must be that he has never stormed into Ainge’s workplace and required a truly NBA-quality bench.

Ainge has actually built groups in the last 4 years that left Stevens shorthanded when the playoffs came around. He could have another one on his hands now.

Stevens used all 12 active players on his lineup in the first half of Boston’s game versus the Spurs, which is a substantial reason the team blew an early 11-point lead. Did we need 4 minutes of Carsen Edwards? Thirteen minutes of Javonte Green? Specifically when the Celtics were heading into a rare two-game break? No, of course not.

However Stevens said something after the video game that should remind Celtics where the blame for a game like Wednesday’s should fall. Stevens was responding to a question about the lineups and making modifications. One of the problems with arranging his bench, he confessed, is that, “There’s not a lots of separation there.”

Again: That is Ainge’s fault. He, after all, assembled this bench, created a group of players amongst which one– except for the pint-sized point guards– is almost identical from the next.

There’s Javonte Green and Semi Ojeleye. There’s Robert Williams, Grant Williams and, now, Daniel Theis. There’s lil’ fellas Tremont Waters and Edwards. There are late-lotto do-littles Romeo Langford and Aaron Nesmith. There’s Jeff Teague and a Gatorade cooler. For each bench man the Celtics have, there’s another much like him.

Not a lot of separation.

This may sound familiar. Last year, Ainge hung on to three first-round choices instead of making a move for any varieties of available veteran players like Markieff or Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, Jeff Green or Wayne Ellington. Any would have been plug-and-play alternatives for a group needing depth. When Boston got to the postseason last year, betting Miami in the conference finals, it was apparent a veteran existence off the bench was required, certainly a lot more than they needed the 30 choice in this year’s draft.

It was the same case when the Celtics were in the playoffs in 2018, with Gordon Hayward hurt and Boston reported to be heavily associated with talks for either Lou Williams or Tyreke Evans. Boston did not wish to cough up a future draft choice, however, so the Celtics did not get either. They end up reaching he conference finals that season but withered since of a lack of depth in a hard Video game 7 versus Cleveland.

The Celtics might have won that series with one significant addition. Rather they had Shane Larkin.

It could be argued that, in 2 of the last four Eastern Conference playoffs, the Celtics would have gone to the Finals if they ‘d only had another productive bench gamer. Stevens does a great task of staggering Boston’s minutes in such a way that one member of the star trio of Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown is normally on the floor with the Boston benchmen. However injuries happen. And rest is needed. Stevens staggers those minutes due to the fact that he has no choice.

Poke at Stevens all you like. He most likely has earned a poking, offered the kid-glove treatment he has actually gotten during his period in Boston. But when it comes to the lineup and rotations the issues there, the absence of “separation” is the issue.