BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics are in a 2-0 hole to the Chicago Bulls, but Danny Ainge isn’t panicking just yet.
We certainly haven’t seen the team that beat the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors back at the beginning of March, but Ainge said while the Celtics are in a down stretch, he’s confident they’ll fix what’s wrong and battle their way back.
“You need to take a deep breath, Rich,” the C’s president of basketball ops. told Rich Shertenlieb during his weekly chat with Toucher & Rich. “I think that our team, like every team, does that; they go through stretches of up and down, highs and lows. They get fired up to play Golden State and Houston, and against lesser teams you sometimes not as fired up. Our team was ready to play and beat Chicago. Our guys were in a good frame of mind in the week leading up [to the playoffs] and we were healthy. I was hoping to see the best we’ve had to offer.
“But Chicago is a good team; they beat Cleveland four times this season,” noted Ainge. “Right now we’re just not playing our best basketball. We’re not making shots and it looks like we’re playing tight. We’re trying home run plays and trying to make six points on a basket. We’re not playing with the poise we need to play with, and [the Bulls are] playing very well and getting good performances out of everybody.”
Ainge said while some players on the Celtics are playing well, no one has elevated their game to the level that is needed in the playoffs.
“In the playoffs you need a couple of guys to make an extra step. They have and we haven’t,” he said. “I still feel a lot of hope. I know our team is better than how they’re playing. I’ve seen too much to think this is who we are.
“We’re playing tight,” added Ainge. “Maybe on the road it will be a little lesser. Down 0-2, we have to play with desperation and I still have hope.”
Things got a little testy between teammates in Game 2, with Isaiah Thomas upset with Marcus Smart during the second half. Ainge said that tends to happen in the playoffs, especially when teams aren’t playing well, but agrees that the C’s let their emotions get the best of them on Tuesday night.
“When things aren’t going well, emotions get high. These guys invest a lot, and I’m certainly not making excuses,” said Ainge. “Brad deals with it very well and sets the tone; he has his emotions under control more than any other coach in the league. I did feel in Game 2 that we let our emotions get the best of us. When we’re trying to make those six-point shots, that is emotion. We do have young players out there and they let their emotions get the best of them.
“We don’t want to eliminate that,” continued Ainge. “We know Marcus Smart makes some great plays, and without that emotion and passion he plays with, he wouldn’t be as good of a player. But, it can get the best of you. He’s matured slowly over the years and I think at some point he’ll overcome these incidents and overcome his emotions.”
Ainge also talks about the death of Isaiah Thomas’ sister, Brad Stevens’ playoff record and the lack of moves Boston made at the trade deadline: