Thursday, April 25, 2013
Ainge: Missing Rondo is no excuse
By Greg Payne
Quick hits following Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge's weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI (93.7 FM) Thursday.
On whether he expects Kevin Garnett to be limited, physically, in Friday's Game 3: "No, listen, I think KG expects to be at his best tomorrow night. I don't know, he looked good in practice (Thursday), he's moving well, and I expect KG to be good (Friday)."
On whether not having a true point guard is hurting the Celtics right now: "I think those are just excuses. We've known this. We've been preparing for the playoffs for a few months. I think that we have what we have and we've got to do the best with it. I guess that right now I just don't think that we've played like we were capable of playing. I mean, it's one thing to lose to a team that deserves to beat you and is a better team. But I feel like we've come out ready to play, and for whatever reason, I have no idea, but the beginning of the third quarter in the last two games has not been good."
On whether the Celtics are unsure of what plays to run without Rajon Rondo: "Well we've had an opportunity to play a lot of games without Rondo. But, listen, if you just look around, this has been going on for 30 years. It's no secret. Great players at this time really step it up and our guy that was our best player last year in the playoffs, a guy that had 44 at Miami, that got us to the position that we were, that has been the MVP of multiple playoff series over the last handful of years -- not just playoff games, but playoff series -- he's a guy that's certainly capable of being the best guy on the court on any given night. He's a terrific player and we certainly miss him. We've been saying that all year long."
Pressed on whether the Celtics are unsure of what plays to run without Rondo: "Right, but, you know, I think that that's a little blown out of proportion, just because, hey, we had these same challenges before. I mean, losing double-figure leads in the fourth quarter of games is not something that has just happened. This has been going on for three or four years and I wish I knew. Sometimes I think we put such an effort and emphasis on defense that our guys don't have the energy to keep cutting and moving and so forth without the ball in the fourth quarter. I don't know what it is, but it's not just a Rondo issue. Missing Rondo, like I said, he has the ability to take over games, as we've seen him do, against the elite players in the world, and we don't have a player like that. That hurts us. But, not knowing what to do or what plays to run, every team goes through that a little bit, but we should not be having that problem, no."
On whether the Celtics need to be tougher on offense or defense: "To me it's all an attitude. I think when you try to define whether your offense wins or your defense wins, it's attitude that wins. Your perspective and the way you play the game, and I think that offense takes care of itself, sometimes. So, both is the answer. You've got to create offense sometimes with your defense if you're struggling, and you've got to find a way. I'd liken it to a pitcher who doesn't have his best stuff. You've still got to get guys out. And we've got to find a way to get stops and get in the open court as much as we can. But, offensively we need to assert ourselves, we need to be more physical offensively."
On whether Paul Pierce is being asked to do too much and others need to contribute more: "Yes. I mean, I think Paul has taken four charges in two games. I'm not sure anyone else on the team has taken any. Paul is our leading scorer, he's carrying an offensive burden. Paul is, right now, our best player and our best scorer and he needs help. He needs other guys stepping up and he can't do it the whole game. It's a grind for him, and Paul, still, shows signs of being a great player. He's not as consistently great as he was five years ago, but he still is a fantastic player in this league and he's showing that in this playoff series."
On what the Celtics need to do to come back and win the series: "We've got to make shots. I mean, we've got to have contributions out of a lot of people. We can't do it with one or two guys like New York has done. We don't have that kind of scoring power, we don't have the leading scorer in the NBA on our team right now. So, we've got to get contributions out of a lot of people."