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Danny Ainge credits Brad Stevens for making the move that made the Boston Celtics a title contender

Ainge praised Stevens for correcting his mistake. Not something you see often in the NBA.
Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens

Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens

The Boston Celtics surprised everyone when they reached the NBA Finals this season. The team struggled in the past, but Danny Ainge credited one roster move that turned things around for Boston.

Improved defense without Kemba Walker

Boston gave up so much to get Kemba Walker, and he delivered good numbers. However, sometimes, you have to sacrifice being good to become great. So Brad Stevens decided it was time to tweak the lineup: a move that could've been a failure or a success. Fortunately, it worked in their favor.

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Walker was sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder plus a first-rounder for Al Horford and Moses Brown. Ainge praised the move and claimed it improved the team’s defense vastly.

“I think that, by moving Kemba, it allowed Marcus (Smart), Jaylen (Brown) and Jayson (Tatum) and Robert Williams to really thrive in positional size, with Horford taking up a big responsibility in the front line for Robert and moving Jaylen, Jayson and Marcus to their positions where they can have size advantages. It’s just a better fit. I think that is really clear.”

Danny Ainge, Heavy.com

Under Danny Ainge, Boston had All-Star point guards, all offensive powerhouses but also a set of liabilities on defense. Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas, and Kemba Walker were a delight to watch, but Marcus Smart, at the point, delivered the hustle and tough defense more than the highlights.

Getting players that fit the system

Brad Stevens and Ime Udoka’s system worked because they got the players they needed. Sometimes, a team doesn’t need to conform to traditional positions or sign star players. A team only needs players to believe and commit to the system. Everyone knows Smart isn’t going to put up 30 points and 10 assists every night. He is playing the point guard position because of his size and defense at the point of attack.

Unpopular but calculated roster moves are a trait of a great front office. A team needs to have a great vision from great leaders. Once that is set, everything else will follow. If NBA fans were surprised at the Celtics reaching the finals, Boston’s front office wasn’t. They knew what they were doing all along. So it’s just a matter of moving and getting the key pieces. 

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