Boston Celtics SHOCK: Kyrie Irving revelation made because of Terry Rozier

Brendan Kurie: Three draft picks have Celtics rolling into Eastern Conference Finals

The 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year award may be a tossup between Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell, but the best player in this draft class may be the third overall pick.

The one thing people seem to be forgetting is that Brad Stevens is the coach, and he always seems to get the best out of his players.

While the young players on Boston's rosters have been huge in Boston's success, Brown said the veteran leadership of Horford has been just as important in helping hold things together throughout the season. "It felt like he just came out of nowhere, and it was like, I'm finally in the National Basketball Association".

He believes his team's mental toughness and grit have carried it more than anything he's done.

Between the Cavs having already squared off with the Celtics three times this season when Irving was active and the fact that he won't be in the upcoming series, some of the luster in what would have otherwise been one of the most highly anticipated playoff matchups in recent memory appears to have been lost. That consistency isn't for everyone. He's played really well in this series. Irving gave the C's a legitimate superstar for the first time in a long time, and not only did Thomas and Crowder struggle in Cleveland, but both were dealt again during the season, Thomas to the Lakers and Crowder to Utah.

While achieving Red Auerbach status may not be on Stevens' radar, in just his fifth season there's no question the 41-year-old is also beyond being the wide-eyed former Butler University coach who arrived in Boston. Tatum has gone from averaging 13.9 points in the regular season to 18.8 in the playoffs.

It was everything that made these Celtics, and Smart, all wrapped up in a few ticks of the clock.

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Stevens said he's focused on living in the moment.

But a lot of folks said that about the Bucks and the Sixers series too, and here we are. Even though he's a young guy by age, he's not young in terms of experience. He's seen us have to play against all kinds of different styles. It's being able to do your job on the next play every single time. "He's been great in the playoffs". Guiding a limited group of available regulars - in essence a seven-man rotation until backup guard Shane Larkin recovers from his shoulder injury - the baby-faced bench boss has developed into a difference-maker, such as the inbounds play call to Horford who scored the decisive layup in Game 3 with a mismatch in the paint.

- The Celtics were afforded a welcome sight during their Saturday practice - Gordon Hayward actually participating in the preparation. "There's a lot of talented guys, but at the end of the day, you've got to go out there and get it".

"He's been in Indy for however long now and has progressed nicely", Stevens said.

Hayward was back in Boston while the Celts were in Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4 and is returning this weekend. He was part of the walk-through, which was fun just to have him back out here. "And they only keep getting better". Daniel Theis is also out for the playoffs with a knee injury.

"Or maybe they say "maybe we think his value is extraordinary high right now and maybe his value is a bit inflated" so maybe they can trade him". One obvious trait is the ability to present an outside threat, which in the case of the Cavs comes from Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith. "You can't", Stevens said. "A couple of other guys get into that mix". Celtics fans (and players) may recall Irving setting Boston's defense on fire, despite being guarded by two of the best guard defenders in the league - Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley.

"He was down, I think, initially", Stevens said.

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