Celtics president of basketball ops Danny Ainge joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich on Thursday, less than 24 hours after the team’s latest disappointing effort in a 113-108 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. And Ainge is putting this one squarely on the players.
Head coach Brad Stevens has faced criticism of his own for the team’s inconsistency from night to night, and even from quarter to quarter. But at the end of the day, Ainge wants the players themselves to be motivated enough on their own. He agreed with Rich Shertenlieb when asked if the idea that a coach should be a “motivator” for players is overrated.
“Oh yeah, way overrated,” Ainge said. “I say it all the time when we’re drafting players: ‘How self-motivated is he?’ You’re playing 100 games in an NBA season, and you’re practicing each day, and if you’re not self-motivated you’re not going to succeed.”
Ainge acknowledged, like Stevens did after the game, that the Celtics responded poorly to adversity. He also believes that, unlike Stevens, the players aren’t respecting their opponents enough.
“I’m putting it on my players’ shoulders right now,” Ainge said. “I think they need to look internally, and they need to want it more, and they need to be able to fight through adversity better. I know Brad fights through adversity. I know he’s preparing for the game, and he’s respecting every opponent he sees. I don’t have any doubt about that.
“But I’m worried about some nights, the way we come out to play, somehow we’re better than our opponents, and therefore we don’t have to give the maximum effort. And then I see sometimes like last night, I thought we were ready to play, but adversity hit, and we didn’t respond.”
Listen above for the full interview. Keep scrolling for photos from Wednesday night’s game between the Celtics and Mavericks.