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Brad Stevens more comfortable this year

Celtics coach Brad Stevens is honest with his players, which limits dissension in the ranks.AP Photo/Jessica Hill

WALTHAM — The level of comfort with which Brad Stevens handles his responsibility as Celtics coach is higher, especially when compared with his first season.

As the Celtics enter their second season of the post-Big Three Era and Stevens cements himself as an NBA coach — not a college coach with an NBA job — the organization is becoming more of a reflection of him and his preparation.

The Celtics are a roster of evenly talented players, but five of those players will see little action in Wednesday night's opener against the Brooklyn Nets. Stevens will go with a 10-man rotation, having to massage a few egos and stress that however minutes are distributed, it will be for the good of the team, and that is not always an easy message to convey.


But Stevens's honesty with his players has ensured that while every player won't be happy, there won't be the dissension there was early last season when Gerald Wallace expressed dissatisfaction with his bench role and Keith Bogans left the team because he was disgruntled with his minutes.

It took weeks for the team to trust Stevens’s methods, but the fact the Celtics played so hard throughout the season was a testament to the coach’s upfront approach. His style has drawn raves from fellow coaches, who believe Stevens officially has assumed control of the organization after nine years of Doc Rivers’s influence.

"I think Brad is a terrific coach," former NBA coach and ESPN analyst Doug Collins said. "When you're Brad Stevens, you're navigating basically in an 80-game season. We saw what he did at Butler, that team was as well-coached as any team that was in college basketball. He's got a great feel for the game, a nice demeanor. He's a terrific teacher. The hardest part is dealing with the losses. He's never lost before and the guy's been to two Final Fours with Butler.

"A lot of it [last year] was like a Development League team, where your job is to try to get players better and create the assets for your team to put your team in the position to move forward, [as much] as it is to focus on how many games you can win. I give him a lot of credit."


Collins had nothing but compliments for Stevens.

"I'm a big Brad Stevens fan, I think he did a wonderful job and he's going to be more comfortable this year."

Collins said Stevens is in a similar position as he was in 2010-11 when he coached a bunch of youngsters and solid-but-not-spectacular players in Philadelphia. Collins said he told Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams they would better serve the team coming off the bench.

The 76ers won 41 games after starting 3-13 with six players averaging double figures. The Celtics are going to require that type of balance to be successful.

"When you're losing every single night and you're trying to build something, it's hard because I don't care what any coach says, you go home and it eats at your stomach when you're losing basketball games," Collins said. "I give Brad a lot of credit and also [Philadelphia's] Brett Brown. To take those kind of losses, to start to build something for Boston and Philadelphia, I got a lot of respect for both of those guys."

Current Celtic Evan Turner was part of that Philadelphia team and sees similarities, especially with the balance.

"I think to a certain extent," Turner said when asked if the situations are similar. "[Andre Iguodala] and Jeff [Green] kind of share certain comparisons. Marcus Thornton, you can compare Lou Williams to in regards to a scorer. Once again, the mixture of veteran talent and young talent is definitely equal, and I think we have the type of team that can get out and run and surprise people.''


When asked if he and his teammates have the selflessness to share scoring responsibility and playing time, Turner said, "Absolutely. I think that comes from everything that the older guys, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and all of them preached. I remember one day Avery [Bradley] was just saying, 'We're a family,' and I think they really believe that.

"Obviously this is the right organization and right locker room to really believe in selflessness and all for one."

Stevens will find out beginning Wednesday night whether Boston's balance will be effective, and if the preseason results and training camp vibes are any hint, balance will be the Celtics' best friend.

How Stevens handles Year 2 of the team's new direction will be fascinating, but he is definitely more relaxed and better equipped for the long, challenging season.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.