Danny Ainge Rumors
Ainge wants them to understand how precious this chance is, even if it begins to feel somewhat normal. He said that has been his primary message to the Celtics this week, as they try to claw back and reach their first NBA Finals under coach Brad Stevens. “Resolve,” Ainge said. “This opportunity doesn’t come along all the time. Guys at young ages probably think that it will. I’m not sure that when you’re as young as some of our players are that you can appreciate that. You just don’t know when these opportunities come along. You think they’re going to last forever.”
Ainge understands the long odds but he remains confident that Boston can bounce back before it is too late. He said several times in a 15-minute phone interview Thursday that he believes the Celtics’ best games are yet to come. The issue, of course, is that the margin for error has now been erased. “I’m not panicking,” Ainge said. “I really believe in these guys and I think that they’re showing some great moments, and we just need to be able to sustain it longer.”
Tatum, meanwhile, slogged through a scoreless first half before pouring in 28 points in the second. Fellow All-Star Kemba Walker, who has a pair of 50-point games in his career, has reached the 30-point mark just once in these playoffs. There is always a chance that either player could catch lightning in a bottle when it is needed most. “It’s not like guys are playing really bad,” Ainge said. “But to win you need some special performances out of some of your guys. Not everybody has to do it. It’s not like someone needs to go score 37 points for us, but we do need to make enough shots. We do need to make teams pay for the guys they’re leaving open, and we need to take care of the ball.”
“Some of the things that came out of a Jaylen, believe it or not, are interpreted negatively because he’s such a studious kid,” recalls Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. “‘He knows more than others’ and ‘he thinks he knows it all’ — things like that because he was a smart kid. It wasn’t always conveyed in a real positive way.” There was chatter about Brown wanting to do things beyond basketball, that maybe basketball wasn’t his biggest focus. And, indeed, he is eclectic. He taught himself Spanish, has studied Arabic, can play the piano, guitar, likes philosophy and meditation and hot yoga. He likes “saging the air,” which he learned at Cal. He keeps a journal. He didn’t hire an agent to represent him heading into the draft, instead relying on his circle of advisers.
Speaking a day after the game, Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” that he agreed with Kemba Walker’s self-assessment about needing to play at a higher level. “Kemba hasn’t played well, I think he would be the first one to admit that,” Ainge explained in the Wednesday morning interview. “I think the defense and the opponents that we’re playing have something to do with it. I think that when they make it really hard on guys — and I’ve experienced this myself, I’ve seen players much better than myself experience it — they make it really hard on you, and then when you do get that open one it’s just more difficult. “He’s got to figure it out, and I’m confident that he will.”
Ainge was asked if he thought that the team’s ball movement was hurt by having primary scorers who are less experienced in major playoff series. “Yeah, I think that that’s exactly right,” replied the longtime Celtics’ executive. “You know I just think that we have good enough players [elsewhere]. I mean Jayson didn’t really get a touch other than the tip-in late, he wasn’t involved in the game at all. Our bigs didn’t do anything or get any opportunities with the defenses that they had switching. We weren’t trying to exploit match-ups, but I think those are things we figure out. You figure as you watch film after a tough loss like this.”
He also called for more players to be utilized as scorers. “I think we’ve got to get more people involved in the offense,” Ainge noted. “I think Jaylen Brown has a lot to offer this group, and we just forgot about him and didn’t really do anything to exploit his advantages. We’ve got to continue moving the ball, we’ve got to continue to not just pound the ball so early. We’ve got to keep the foot on the gas when we have a lead, like I said it’s easy to do when you’re playing from behind.”