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Brad Stevens, revered league-wide for his basketball IQ and expertise when it comes to drawing up after-timeout plays, is in the upper echelon of NBA coaches, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who argues the contrary.

The 40-year-old, who earned his first NBA head-coaching gig with Boston in 2013, has helped improve the Celtics’ record in each of his four seasons on the sidelines. Most recently, the Celtics finished as the No. 1 seed in the East, won 50-plus games for the first time since 2010-11, and advanced to the conference finals, where they fell to a much stronger Cleveland Cavaliers team in five games.

So when the NBA award finalists were announced last week and Stevens wasn’t one of the three coaches nominated for the annual Coach of the Year award, Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas couldn’t help but wonder why.

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At the team’s exit interviews on Friday, Thomas was responding to a question about whether he’s talked to any players set to hit free agency this summer, but then veered down a different path.

“I haven’t (talked to any upcoming free agents) yet. I was focused on trying to get as far as I can in the playoffs. And also focusing on why Brad Stevens ain’t in the Coach of the Year conversation,” Thomas told the reporters gathered in Boston.

“That’s BS. That is — I was thinking about that the other day. Like, we’re the No. 1 seed in the East, and everybody in the world thinks we’re half as talented as anybody in the NBA. It’s weird he’s not even in the conversation. That’s, I don’t know, that’s crazy. He should definitely be in the running, and if you ask anybody in this league, he should definitely probably be the Coach of the Year.”

Thomas makes a valid point, but the three finalists — San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Houston’s Mike D’Antoni and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra — are all deserving of the recognition, too.

The award finalists, and winners, are determined by a panel of NBA media members, who submitted ballots before the start of the playoffs. The winners will be announced during the inaugural NBA Awards show, which will air live from New York’s Basketball City on June 26 on TNT after the conclusion of the NBA Finals.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ AJ Neuharth-Keusch on Twitter @tweetAJNK