98.5 The Sports Hub staff report
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, whose team is down 3-1 in their third-round series with Miami after Wednesday’s Game 4 loss, isn’t throwing in the towel on his team.
“I don’t think this team is done yet,” Ainge said during an appearance on Toucher & Rich. “We’re a way better team than we played last night. That is not who I know this team to be.”
But he isn’t running from the Celtics’ issues after a ‘very frustrating’ loss that’s pushed them to the brink of elimination.
“Last night was a rough one,” Ainge admitted out of the gate. “I just didn’t feel like we had it from the beginning. We had a good spurt to take the lead late in the game, but we were throwing the ball all over the place. We didn’t have the same confidence and swag we had in Game 3 and it’s hard to know why.
“We had so many good stretches in the course of [Game 4], you can see that our players are prepared. It’s just being able to sustain it. The turnovers, there were so many of them that were just unforced turnovers. And so that is frustrating.”
Much has been made about the C’s struggles with the zone defense the Heat have implemented throughout this series, but the defense isn’t as much of an issue as the wide-open misses have been, according to Ainge.
“We’ve gotten a lot of great shots, but we aren’t able to knock them down,” said Ainge. “In the first half last night, we missed so many wide open shots that we normally make. And I don’t know if our guys are at the stage of their careers where they can continue to play with the same force defensively and focus when things aren’t going their way. And a lot of that is just maturity. And I’m not making excuses for age, because our young guys have been through a lot, and had some shining, brilliant moments.”
But Ainge says that he hasn’t lost faith in his coach or his team.
“I don’t question my coach and I don’t question my players,” Ainge offered. “I just look at what they’re doing and last night was one of those games where I was very frustrated. I didn’t think anything Miami was doing was causing us to make some of the plays that we made. They were unforced errors.
“Those are hard to take.”
But the Celtics will have a chance to reward Ainge’s faith beginning with Friday’s must-win Game 5. And it’s what Ainge expects to see.
“I’m very confident that our guys are going to come out in a completely different mindset,” said Ainge. “I think we’ll have a much better game in Game 5.”
You can listen to Ainge’s full interview with the guys below.