With their loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night, the Celtics officially cemented their place in the NBA’s inaugural play-in tournament, instead of an outright playoff bid. It was what felt like an inevitable result in an overall disappointing season.
On Thursday morning, Danny Ainge joined Toucher & Rich, where he was asked the questions many Celtics fans have been asking themselves in recent months. Namely, how did the Celtics get to this point, and where do they go from here?
“Our team has been decimated with injuries and has underperformed,” Ainge stated. “There’s no doubt about it. And, you know, we’re not as good as we thought we were. That simple.”
Ainge identified the issues as “not just an effort [problem],” adding, “It’s concentration. It’s a focus…How do you explain that we’re 3-10 against some of the worst records in the league and we’re 8-1 against some of the best records in the league?”
Many observers have attributed those situational struggles to poor coaching, but Ainge doesn’t see things that way. “The real issues are not Brad Stevens,” he said point blank. “You can’t just look at a coach and take his whole body of work throughout his whole coaching career and throw in this year and then make a judgment for crying out loud. That is idiotic.”
“Brad Stevens is a fantastic basketball coach, always has been, and is getting better, not worse,” Ainge continued.
Still, there will be at least some sort of shakeup for the Celtics once the season ends. “I think that we will definitely be looking to make some changes in the offseason,” Ainge said. “Obviously can’t go into any of those kind of details. But, yeah, there will be changes. How significant? I don’t know yet. We’ll see.”
However, don’t expect those changes to impact the core of the roster. “The bottom line is our team hasn’t been as consistent, hasn’t been as healthy,” he explained. “We definitely will need to make some changes. But I wouldn’t say there’s any needed changes of our top – of our best players.”
That quote was part of an answer relating to a question about Marcus Smart, meaning Ainge views the ‘best players’ as more than Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Of course, there’s still plenty of time for that to change between now and when the offseason really begins.
Despite Ainge’s insistence that Stevens’ job is safe his core players wont be moved, he made it clear nobody is beyond criticism for the team’s disappointing result in 2021. “I’m saying I blame everybody and I’m saying everybody is guilty of both of those – of playing great and the good games and bad in the bad game,” he explained. “It’s a collective team.”
You can listen to the full 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 abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.