Brad Stevens hoping visit with Red Sox does the trick for a second straight season


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It deja vu for Brad Stevens.

Walking throughout the Fenway South compound Sunday, the Celtics coach was struck with his reality a year before when he had also swung by Red Sox spring training. At that time his team was in the midst of losing four of their last six with expectations starting to dwindle. His hope at the time was to recoup that feeling of early-season optimism the Sox were in the throws of.

That Florida reset certainly seemed to work, with the C's going on to win six of their first seven coming out of the All-Star break, getting much-needed momentum heading into the final months.

It's a turnaround that wasn't lost on Stevens when visiting for a second time.

"We were really struggling at the All-Star break last season, but I thought we played our best basketball the next seven or eight games because we were fully healthy," Stevens said. "That was right before Kyrie (Irving) went out. But I think any time you get a chance to get away it gives you a good perspective and then you get a chance to come here and be around a championship vibe in80-degree weather life just feels a little bit better. Maybe everything is a little bit easier with Vitamin D."

While Stevens -- whose mother lives in the Fort Myers area -- didn't get a chance to address the Red Sox like a year ago, he did manage some time with manager Alex Cora. It was a get-together that left an impression on all parties involved.

"I don’t look at it as young/old whatever. I could sit and listen to Alex Cora give a thesis on coaching and Tony La Russa give a thesis on coaching from two different generations all day long," Stevens said. "It’s special to get a chance to pick the brains of all of them and it’s one of the great benefits, I guess, of being the Celtics coach is you can get a chance to meet those people and learn a great deal from them and I just try to, whether it’s those guys or (Bill) Belichick, or whoever, we’re really blessed to have a lot of people to pick the minds of in Boston."

"He’s great," Cora said. "I think he mentioned Chuck Daly used to say, all you have to do is land the plane. There are going to be ups and downs but just make sure you land the plane and go. They’ve been playing better. When we went there for the championship thing, they were playing OK offensively. Lately, it’s been OK. With them, it's just, be healthy. I think sometimes I do feel they're doing the same things we did last year as far as Kyrie. I might be wrong, but from the outside, it seems like they’re taking care of him so when the playoffs come he’s ready to roll. Hopefully, there are a few games we can go watch, some cool games, and we have a finals and they can do the same things the Patriots and we did.

The Sox manager added, "I’m a sports fan. I love it. I love following teams. Obviously, I got caught up on the Patriots and Celtics now. From Bill (Belichick) I’ve learned a lot. Can’t do it yet with you guys but it’s pretty cool he’s the way he is with the media. But then you talk to him and he’s a real person and he’s funny and obviously very smart. Brad is younger than I am by a year. Just to see what he’s done through the years, rebuilding and now with the expectations. There’s no up and downs with him. It’s very consistent with the way he preaches the game, coaches the game and deals with the media. That’s something I’ve learned from both of them."