Quick hits from Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge following his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI:
On what he took away from the Celtics' 0-3 road trip: "Well I think, first of all, I watch a lot of basketball games and a lot of teams playing, and one thing that's a credit to the franchise and our team is, we're getting everybody's best performance each night. Other than San Antonio, I've watched a lot of games of Houston and Chicago and they've had some real ups and downs and some real stinkers. They both looked really good against us, and I don't think it was just us. I think we ran into hot shooting and some good play. I think that there's been good signs for us, periodically, but we're just not playing consistent basketball. We're just having major letdowns ... We've just had too many stretches where we've played really bad basketball, and I think that we will get out of it. I like the adjustments that Doc made last night. I like [Jason] Collins in the starting lineup, protect KG a little bit. They're both very smart, savvy, defensive players, and we should get a little more punch off the bench that way."
On whether the team has found its identity yet: "We did some amazing things last year in the second half of the season and it's a great credit to the guys and to Doc, but I do think that it wasn't necessarily the way we should go forward, and yet it was hard to mess with that success. I think that's taken a little bit of time to figure out that maybe that's not the best way for us to play, is play small. So last night we played bigger. I thought it was beneficial last night throughout many stretches of the game, and I just think that we are beginning to find our identity, but I don't think it's there yet, and I'm not sure it's going to be there in two weeks.
"But regardless of that, regardless of whether it's the perfect rotation or we're missing players with injuries and all that, we've got to be more consistent. You've got to prevent those runs by other teams and those droughts that we have at the offensive end and giving up so many lay-ins on the defensive end. There's no excuse for the way we're playing. Yeah, you take the time to find out who we are, but there's no excuse to give up 32 points in the paint in a half against Chicago and there's no excuse to give up a 17-0 run to Cleveland."
On the difficulty of locking down a rotation and managing players' minutes: "Well, you know, we're not managing minutes, we're just trying to keep the rotations and get guys to play their best. We've found that KG plays his best when he plays around the 30- to 34-minute mark. We're trying to keep it there, we're trying to keep him fresh. But that's when he plays his best. So, that's just what a lot of coaches do. A lot of coaches have to do that with all teams. You have to figure how [guys] perform their best, and that's really hard to do with 15 players, let alone 12 players. But you should be able to do that with your top seven or eight players."
On Pierce and Garnett still playing like their old selves from time to time: "Oh, yeah. I always felt when I was that age and still playing in the league, I always felt that I could do what I always could do. You just can't sustain it for the amount of minutes. So, if you're in your prime at 27 and you can play at a very high level for 38 minutes in a game on the average and your peak performance, that by the time you get to 35 or 36, you should be able to do some of those same things maybe at a 28- to 30 minute-a-game level. And those guys are amazing. You can include Ray Allen in that as well. ... Playing at a very, very high level at their ages is unheard of. There's very few guys who have done that."
On Kevin Garnett's emotional embrace with Kevin McHale last weekend: "Well I think it was equally as emotional for me watching it. I'm glad that it happened. You know, KG came up to me when he knew I was going to Sasha's funeral, he came up to me to make sure that I told Kevin that he was thinking of him. Even though I don't even know if those guys have spoken since Kevin came to Boston, and I don't think he's happy with the way it came down. I just don't know if those kinds of things can tarnish a relationship that was built on what they have it built on.
"There's a common thing there. They both have gone through so much. They're both two of the greatest power forwards to ever play the game. They're both guys with real big hearts, that their lives are made up of more than just basketball. And I was very touched that they had that opportunity and that I'm just not sure either one could hide their emotions at that moment."