The Celtics recent struggles have highlighted issues with the team’s depth, and health. Since the beginning of the west coast road trip late last month, maintenance days have been a more common occurrence on the roster than in previous years. According to Celtics GM Danny Ainge, that’s because the Celtics are more determined to get to the finish line of the regular season healthy, and enter the playoffs at full strength.
“We just want to be healthy all together at the same time at the most important time of the year this year,” Ainge told Toucher & Rich on Thursday morning. “We’re just trying to manage all of these – the load management and the health. Now they’re legitimately hurt, they’re legitimately banged up, but they’re not out for the year or we’re worried about it.”
The chief example of the Celtics’ load management in 2021 has been Kemba Walker. Since returning from a knee injury in mid-January, Walker has yet to play any back-to-backs, which has at times exposed a glaring hole when it comes to point guard depth.
“I think that Kemba could play back-to-backs. We’re choosing to not have Kemba play back-to-backs,” Ainge explained, which lines up with his comment about “the most important time of the year.”
Ainge added that Daniel Theis has also been held out in similar regard. “Daniel Theis could have played last night and and the night before. We’re choosing to not have him play.” The Celtics’ starting center has missed the last two games with a finger injury.
Don’t get things twisted though, Ainge isn’t oblivious to what this long term approach means for the team in the present. “The problem with having guys sit is then it just puts a lot of pressure on other players that have to do a little bit more than they would normally have to do,” he admitted. “When you make your player that you peg as being your eighth-best player on your team, and needs to play a certain role – and all of a sudden he needs to be your fourth-best player, you’re not as good a team,” Ainge continued.
Still, he’s keeping the big picture in mind. “If we get our team healthy, we can maybe – it could be more of our time [to win a championship] than I think,” Ainge said. “I do think we’re way better than 14-14. You know, I’m almost certain of that. If we’re healthy and we’re playing, as a unit, I just, I like our team.”
You can hear the full Toucher & Rich interview with Danny Ainge below:
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com..