BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics’ chances of upsetting the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals are, of course, extremely slim. That harsh reality reared its ugly head in Cleveland’s dominant Game 1 win. But Celtics president of basketball ops Danny Ainge wasn’t disappointed so much in the loss on Wednesday night, but the lack of competitiveness the C’s showed at times.
Ainge joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday to talk about what’s been a hugely busy week full of ups and downs for the Celtics. When they got into Wednesday’s crushing low against the Cavs, Ainge tacitly acknowledged that the C’s don’t have much of a chance of beating LeBron James as long as he’s playing the way he is right now.
But they can certainly play harder and show a higher compete level.
“We were not competing at a level we needed to at the beginning of the game,” said Ainge. “I thought our guys looked discouraged for a stretch in the second quarter. … I just don’t want to see that. I just want to see ‘compete,’ every minute of the game, and do everything you can.”
Listen to the full podcast below:
It was in the second quarter that the Cavs went on an 18-6 run for the first seven minutes, ultimately taking a 61-39 lead to the locker room at halftime. The Celtics showed more of the “compete” that Ainge was looking for in the second half, outscoring the Cavs 65-56, but the damage had been done.
As for the 2017 NBA Draft, the Celtics had much better fortune in Tuesday’s draft lottery when they officially won the No. 1 overall pick. Lonzo Ball could be a potential choice for the Celtics at that spot, but his father LaVar wouldn’t want that to happen.
Still, without naming names, if Ainge wanted a player he would take him – regardless of any “loose cannons” in his family.
“We do so much research on these players, we know a lot about them,” said Ainge. “Just having loose cannons around their circle of influence would not affect me much at all.”