Since their five-game winning streak early in the season, the Celtics are 6-11. They’ve lost eight of their last 12 games, with the last three coming to the Wizards, Pistons, and Hawks – three teams with a combined winning percentage of 35 percent.
On Thursday morning, Danny Ainge joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich to discuss his team’s recent struggles, and was pretty blunt in his assessment. Asked if he thinks, as currently constituted, the Celtics are good enough to win a title, he replied “I do not.”
“Our roster obviously is not good. I mean, we are a 14-14 team. There’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. That’s who we are,” the Celtics’ GM said, taking responsibility. “This team, where we are, 14-14, if there’s somebody to blame, this is Danny Ainge to blame. This is not Brad Stevens. It’s not Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown. It’s like not good enough right now. And we all know that. And, you know, we need to get better.”
What can be done to turn things around? “I think that the easy answer is obviously we haven’t played [as] well as we expected,” Ainge mentioned. “But – and this is not a spin and this is not an excuse – I’m just saying that our starting team – that we envision as a starting team – has played 20 minutes all year. We just haven’t gotten any sort of consistent flow or groove. We’ve had great moments, good games, good wins, and just a lot of stinkers.”
Building continuity has been an issue throughout sports over the last year, with COVID protocols limiting practice time and player availability. The Celtics are no exception to those circumstances. “This is such a strange time with practice and, you know, COVID, it’s just weird,” Ainge said, “Guys waiting for test results and not practicing near as much as we have and the short season turnaround, all those things have been factors.”
Even with their struggles, Ainge says overreacting to a mid-season slip is not the best long-term solution. “Depth is a problem and we’re aware of that,” he explained. “But when you just say that you’re going to go add depth and then you get healthy and then the depth doesn’t get to play. And we’ve run through those problems before in the past, as you guys are aware.”
“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. “And you can get away with those things for short stretches in a season, but it’s hard to get away from them for the whole season.
“Yes, you can go add some pieces, but you’re giving – you’re sacrificing other things.”
It’s a pretty spot-on explanation of the Celtics’ current state, as they play without Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, and often Kemba Walker. Yet one that doesn’t seem to have a simple solution, given what Ainge said about depth.
You can check out the full T&R conversation 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.