The deeper the Celtics get into the NBA playoffs, the more we’re learning about Ime Udoka’s coaching style. From X’s and O’s to motivational tactics, players continue to give more glimpses behind the scenes of the first-year head coach’s process.
In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Jaylen Brown picked up five assists. Brown’s passing has been in the spotlight at various times this postseason. Speaking with the media Thursday morning between Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals, Brown was asked about his growth as a playmaker, and cited Udoka’s focus on that area of his game.
“I feel like this is a year where I’ve been able to play with the ball in my hands a lot more. Ime has made an emphasis on that,” he said. “Other years prior, I think my sample size was a lot smaller. I appreciate Ime for having that trust in me and having that belief in me to be, like, no, we’re going to put the ball in his hands. Everything else has been just growth from there. Experience is the best teacher. The way I learn things is just by putting me in the middle of it. So being able to get those reps all season long have helped in the playoffs now, so shout-out to Ime for that.”
Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum was asked about Udoka’s in-game presence, and how he’s been able to keep the team engaged. “He always has, from when we were winning and when we were an 11 seed, he still had the same belief in us, in this group, that we could get it done,” Tatum said. “That’s always something I’ve admired and appreciated about him.”
Udoka’s level-headedness has helped the Celtics stay out of ruts this postseason, and really since the calendar shifted to 2022. The team is an unprecedented 7-0 after a loss this postseason, and 13-1 after their last 14 losses with an average scoring margin of plus-15.9 points per game. That one loss came when the team was missing four starters for a game in Toronto in late March.
Following the Celtics’ Game 3 win after their Game 2 loss, Udoka told reporters the team needs to take that kind of urgency into Game 5, even though it comes after a win. It’s a similar message he delivered after the Celtics won Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, before they went on to win Game 5 – the only consecutive wins for either team in that series.
Can the Celtics capture that energy again and take a commanding 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. They’ll have the chance to do that Friday night i in Game 4. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning at 8:30 on 98.5 The Sports Hub and the 98.5 The Sports Hub Celtics Radio Network.