BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics’ first-round playoff series against the Bulls has been anything but your typical 1-8 matchup.
The Bulls took the first two games, in Boston, before the Celtics returned the favor in Chicago. Boston won Wednesday night’s Game 5 and can end things Friday night when the series heads back to Chicago.
It’s a series that has been full of drama and other NBA nonsense, from Fred Hoiberg complaining about Isaiah Thomas palming the ball (and getting a little sour about it) to Robin Lopez tying Jae Crowder’s shoes on the floor. Dwyane Wade even said after Wednesday night’s game that there was no hot water in the visitors locker room, meaning Red Auerbach is watching from somewhere high above courtside.
Celtics president of basketball ops. Danny Ainge joined Toucher & Rich on Thursday morning for his weekly interview to discuss Boston’s 3-2 series lead and all the extracurricular stuff going on in the series. He isn’t paying much attention to the Butler-Smart war of words, adding that both are known for being tough players. He did recall one time a beef from on the court made its way off of it, but it didn’t really amount to anything.
He doesn’t remember the year or circumstances around the exchange, but said M.L. Carr and Tree Rollins nearly came to blows when the two crossed paths outside of the locker room.
“It’s very, very rare and most of it is just talk. Basketball players don’t want to fight,” said Ainge. “It wasn’t a fight. They met and someone had to break it up again. They did go out [of the locker rooms] and started to talk, and had there not been more people around there could have been a fight.”
Ainge said it was really just a bunch of hot air exchanged between the two players.
“Just like they do on the court,” Ainge joked.
As for Hoiberg’s comments on Thomas, Ainge said they were out of character for the coach.
“I think they’re just trying to draw attention to something, which isn’t unusual in a playoff series,” he said, adding that just about every player palms the ball these days. “I think Allen Iverson sort of brought it into the game and made it famous, and all the good players grew up playing that way. I think they allow the side of the ball. I see it called, but it’s rare.”
Ainge still doesn’t think the Celtics have played their best basketball, and he knows ending the series on Friday will be no easy task.
“This series is definitely not over,” he said. “Closing games are the hardest ones to finish, and our team doesn’t have that experience.”
Listen to Ainge’s full chat with Toucher & Rich below, including his thoughts on Kelly Olynyk’s performance off the bench: