Kevin Eastman has been in the NBA as a part of the Boston Celtics coaching staff since 2004-2005. He turned the Celtics around and won an NBA championship (07-08). Coach Eastman is regarded around the country and world as one of the best assistant basketball coaches out there. Kevin is also known for his ability to teach other coaches the game of basketball. Here are his basketball coaching clinic notes from the 2010 Florida Coaches Clinic.
Basketball Coaching Clinic Notes
Wanted to allow coaches inside of how the Celtics operate
- Celtics are very open about what they do. “There are no secrets to what we do.” (Even if it is a basketball play because you don’t know when we’re running it or how well we’re going to run it.).
Also wanted to provide questions that stimulate thinking rather than trying to provide the answers.
- As basketball coaches, we must translate knowledge (through learning and discussing) into wisdom (through our experiences and by thinking and reflecting ). “That is what we owe our players.”
The latest topic of his newsletter: “What are some of the principles our players need to be 100% in?” In other words, you can’t be partially “in.”
- Discipline – “The best players discipline themselves to be disciplined.”
Talked about the importance of the Celtics’ culture and explained the “core covenants” of the Celtics’ culture:
- Winning/Success: Players will often say that they want to win championships but almost always want to do it their way (their playing time, number of shots, etc.) Your role is based on winning. You may not like or agree with it, but it is what we need to win.
- Personal Sacrifice.
- Accountability – personal and to the team.
Doc always talks about “confronting reality” and being truthful with today’s players. Used the Shaq signing as an example. Doc was very upfront with Shaq about his role/minutes and was willing to lose him if it was no the right fit. “Doc would rather lose him than have to trick him into coming.”
Celtics set standards of excellence coming into each year.
Coaching staff makes every decision “through the prism of their culture and standards.”
- When asked if a player does not understand the culture or standards:
- First, they get a head start with who they bring in. Not everyone can be a Boston Celtic and live/play within their culture.
- Any non-compliance is dealt with by the “internal leadership” (leaders of the team).
- Also talked about “hidden leaders” (i.e., Garnett was Glen Davis’ hidden leader. Ray Allen: Rondo. James Posey: 2nd unit).
- If needed, Doc will handle a player who does not comply with the culture/standards with a “tremendous dose of reality.”
- Doc encourages his assistants to immediately confront any challenge to the culture.
- Says that they have very few drastic deviations from their standard or culture. In 1,875 meetings over the course of the season, players only missed five of them; and none missed by any player in the top 10 of their rotation.
The power of words. What we say as coaches is very powerful.
- Example: the year Boston won the NBA title, Doc said the most powerful 4 words to the team at the time when Rondo was struggling: “I believe in you.”
What do they put premiums on when evaluating players?
- Character (not characters)
- Competitive drive
- Intelligent work ethic
There is a difference between talent and talented. The “ed” in talented stands for “extra dimension.”
- Talented players:
- Make their teammates better.
- Make their team better.
- As a result of #1 and #2, make themselves better (Uses KG as an example of this).
2 things you must get past to win championships:
- Hard (It’s had to win a championship).
- Personal (if it’s “you driven, you’ll be done early).
Celtics defense emphasizes three things:
- Transition Defense
- Pick and Roll Defense
- ½ Court Defense
12 Basic Tenants of Transition Defense
- On the rise of the shot, the 1, 2, and 3 get back ( 4 and 5 can go to the glass). They would rather give up a few offensive rebounds to have a better chance of getting their defense set.
- The first three steps are most important in sprinting back on defense (beat your man to ½ court).
- Must get “below the ball.”
- We are guarding their team, not our matchup.
- 2 guys back are in tandem.
- 3 guys back are in triangle.
- 1st bug guy back protects the basket.
- 2nd big guy back “loads to the ball”; with the goal being to take away any seams and to stop dribble penetration. With great penetrating players, they will “load to touch.”
- No Buddy. Find the ball. Don’t just find your matchup.
- Get to “shrink spots” (help). Again, take away all possibilities of penetration. Do not allow any seams.
- Make them throw 2 passes in transition.
- Use your voice and your fingers in transition defense.
8 “musts’ in Transition D
- Must have a transition defense mindset.
- Must sprint back and be back.
- Must take away the early strike (for them, it’s the first 6 seconds).
- Must make them throw at least 2 passes (buys time for your defense).
- Must guard their team, not your matchup.
- Must play team defense, not individual defense.
- Must find and cover shooters.
- We must use our fingers and voices.
6 things that players can do to make Transition D harder:
- Complaining to the referee.
- Missed shot followed by histrionics.
- Celebrating a shot.
- Instinct of going to the offensive glass.
- Player gambles and misses (they will stat this if they start to gamble too much).
- The player falls, trying to draw a foul call.
3 things that improve Transition D
- Great shot selection (gives your balance on the other end).
- 4 and 5 offensive rebounds.
- Driving the ball against a good running team to draw fouls, thus breaking up the game and taking them out of their flow.
10 things that hurt Transition D
- Lazy first 3 steps.
- Lack of communication.
- A “my man” mentality.
- Crashing the boards.
- Transition offense at the expense of Transition D (leak outs).
- Long, easy throw ahead passes.
- Buddy running.
- Drags or double drags (transition ball screen by the offense).
- Cross matchups: On misses, they guard who guarded them. On makes, they guard their matchup.
Their ideal defensive possession: no penetration, then a contested jumpshot.
- If they allow penetration, they do not want any shots off the first pass of penetration. They want to make you throw 3+ passes.
Difference between a “flat drive” and a “penetration drive.”
- They will stunt their help defenders on a flat drive.
- If the defender is beaten on a penetration drive, they will switch: “We switch out of necessity, not convenience.” What beats you? The mismatch or the open shot? Open shot.
- They are not just going to change their scheme if things aren’t going their way. If you are getting beat by a player/action: “Do it harder,” “Do it better,” Sub them out of the game. Then, if none of that has worked, change your scheme.
Want to avoid having to scramble but says that the best defensive teams in NBA history still defend well when “all hell breaks loose.”
Best defensive teams when they are in practice: “Their mouths are talking, their sneakers are squeaking, and their fingers are pointing.”
What communication does for them:
- Intimidate the offense (can play with other teams’ heads).
- Gives you a head start at whatever your next movement is (i.e., fighting a screen; early communication allows you to start fighting through a screen before the screener makes contact).
- The man guarding the ball has much more confidence.
- Wakes up a disengaged defense.
- Catches mistakes before they are made.
- Energizes our team ( our best practices are our loudest practices).
- Trust takes time.
- Trust takes consistency.
- Trust takes proof. When you say you’re going to do something, you do it.
- Also noted that teams that trust each other foul less often.
If you blindfolded someone, what would they hear at your practice?
- “The low man wins” (Leverage game).
- “Fouling negates hustle.”
- “Defense is about commitment; offense is about comfort. Take offense out of their comfort zones.”
- “The help defender should never get beat.” (He’s already there).
- “Ball-side defense wins games; weak side defense wins championships.”
Notes he had taken from Lawrence Frank:
Setting a goal of consecutive stops.
- Get 3 straight stops seven times in the first 42 minutes.
- Get 3 straight stops twice in the last 6 minutes: Last 6 minutes is the “moment of truth time.”
The stat sheet the NBA gives you tells you what happened in the game; the numbers you choose to keep tell you the how and the why.
You should choose the numbers you keep by setting a priority, creating a category, setting a goal, then charting your results.
- Priority: Transition D; Category, Fast Break Points, Goal, 11 or less, Result _____
Other notes from the lecture:
- Your 2nd unit: can’t win you championships but can keep you from winning them.
- ‘It’s” Stand for “Impossible to Succeed.” (i.e., “It’s hard, “It’s early).
- They constantly duplicate and repeat things of ultra importance.
- Great players do what is outstanding for the team, not what makes them stand out.
- Talk energizes your team during a practice.
- ‘Are you an energy giver or an energy zapper?’
- “Emotional Hijackers”: guys that require teammates to expend energy calming you down.
- The Celtics “validate” every win in practice by making a free throw: Along with emphasizing free throw shooting, you will find out who wants to take the last shot.
- Doc will occasionally allow a player to diagram a play.
- 2 types of penetration: Shot fake, penetration, and Quick penetration (pull-through).
- Celtics staff is constantly reading: Not just for knowledge, but in looking for ways to motivate their team.
- Great story about motivation: Overheard Bill Russell talking to KG. His advice: “put your arm around them and take them with you.” (don’t drag them or push them, but put your arm around them).
- Big eyes, big ears, small mouth: Doc lives this and can always make an accurate read on his team.