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Ainge on The Big Show: Nate played ‘nervous’

02.24.10 at 8:49 pm ET
By
Danny Ainge (AP)

Danny Ainge (AP)

Celtics president Danny Ainge was a guest on The Big Show Wednesday afternoon (Click here to listen to the interview) and he addressed the health of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Nate Robinson’s adjustment to the team and Ray Allen’s resurgence. Following is a transcript.

Are you expecting Paul Pierce to be out against Cleveland?

I’m not sure yet. It will be a game-time decision. You never know with Paul. We want to be cautious with that thumb because those things can get aggravated easily. I don’t think the injury is serious, but they can get aggravated over and over and over.

Do you have to hold him out for his own benefit?

Yeah, but again, we will just see how the treatment goes and how much stronger it is tomorrow. By game time we will make that decision.

If you were playing the Nets tomorrow as opposed to Cleveland, would you treat it differently?

I don’t think so. I think that Cleveland might be a temptation for Paul. We still have the big picture in mind and it makes more sense to rest all his minor ailments and get him healthy once and for all.

How did Nate Robinson look last night?

I thought Nate was playing a little bit nervous. I think the dynamic of coming into a good team is a tough one because you are trying to fit in. He hasn’t played basketball in 10 days. They had a shootaround, basically, was all they had to go through the offense and playing the Knicks. I think all those things going in, there was a lot of emotion going on. I could see he was trying to fit in. Doc was trying to tell him that we just want you to be aggressive and attack, because that’s when he is at his best. Being an aggressive offensive player looking to score, I think that’s when he plays his best basketball.

Was the recent road trip encouraging because Kevin Garnett may be healthy heading into the end of the season?

That was an encouraging part of the trip was watching KG move. He was moving better right before we made the trip. Watching Ray move, watching Perkins move, I thought our team looked fresher. Our team just looked a lot better athletically.

He started to look like the old KG?

Yeah, that is encouraging.

Kind of like David Ortiz reacting to rumors that his skills were in the decline, Ray Allen looks like a different player since the rumors of his decline and the trading deadline are passed. Was it the end of all the rumors that got him playing better?

Right, but I think it’s the rest from the All-Star break no the rumors.

I think it’s you?

I don’t know what KG, Perkins and Rondo’s excuses were then, because I thought our whole team was limping into the All-Star break and not playing with a lot of passion and energy. Ray has had a better year then people are giving him credit for, too. To put Ray Allen and David Ortiz in the same category is ludicrous. First of all, Ray is one of the most well-conditioned guys.

Now you are taking shots at Red Sox players?

I was watching something last night and they showed a picture of David Ortiz running these little wind sprints. They were like 10 feet back-and-forth, these little wind sprint things, and he’s heavy, I know he is a power hitter. So then [Terry] Francona comes on and says, “Hey, you’ve got to give him credit for doing the wind sprints.” I’m going, “What are you talking about? Doesn’t everybody have to do conditioning.” That was amazing to me. OK, so I’m supposed to give credit because KG is doing conditioning drills.

How many baseball spring trainings did you attend?

I went to four days of spring training in my whole baseball career.

You think Ray’s play has nothing to do with the fact that he’s still in Boston?

I don’t know. I’m not sure. I just think everybody was playing poorly and Ray has had some great stretches throughout the course of the season, I never thought it was age. I think that the trade rumors, there was probably a little bit of an anxiety there, but again it wasn’t Ray it was the focus of Ray with his name being there. He was still playing better than most of the rest of the team through that stretch, he just wasn’t playing great.

Do people focus too much on Ray Allen’s 3-point shooting?

He’s had the best year of his career shooting the ball inside the 3-point arc, and he’s had the worst year of his career shooting outside of the arc. Ray’s shooting over 52 percent inside the arc and that’s impressive.

Can you put an imaginary line inside the 3-point arc for Rasheed Wallace, he won’t know the difference right?

The good new is that Rasheed is spending more time inside the 3-point line. We want Rasheed to shoot the 3-point ball. I think he is going to have to keep shooting it some because we think it’s a weapon for us. Like I said last week, there’s going to be a series or a big game where Rasheed’s outside shooting is going to be a factor in those games. We need his outside shooting so we want him to keep shooting them and hope that he starts shooting a better percentage, so far this year.

Does Marquis Daniels have the flu, and is that an issue for tomorrow night?

It could be. He kind of got it right before the game, and after the game he was pretty sick. He missed practice today and we are hopeful 24 hours of medicine and rest will get him back ready for tomorrow.

His moving without the ball is a weapon that we haven’t seen much of this year.

No, he was very good last night. There were double teaming the post. They didn’t have anybody to guard our big guys in the post so they trapped them most of the night and Marquis found his way to some open seams easily. He’s got a knack of not only catching and finding and timing it right, but then finishing.

What do you think we will see with Rondo and Robinson together?

I don’t know. I don’t think that it’s an ideal tandem. I look at it more as an option that Doc has occasionally. I don’t think it’s something we should see every night or something like that, unless it’s very successful, and it could be. We also just saw a Western Conference trip where we played big guards, and we played Tony Allen and Marquis Daniels and are defense was very special. I think Doc has options. I think Rondo and Nate could play together some nights, maybe other nights they can’t. Some nights you can play the two bigger guards and they can provide excellent defensive rebounding for us.

Is it a good thing for a guy like Bill Walker to go to a team where he can get some minutes and learn the game?

It’s a problem throughout the league. There’s a lot of guys that can play that just don’t get the opportunity to play. I’m anxious to see how Billy is going to play. There just wasn’t minutes for him, same with J.R [Giddens]. When they went down to the D-League they did excellent and they performed. Now we have another kid, Marcus Landry, and he looked good in practice today. He’s another kid that just needs opportunities to play, and they are all a little bit different. They are all guys that will be free agents this summer, so we are evaluating them regularly. There is no reason why guys couldn’t come back here and play. Billy and J.R. possibly could. I’m anxious to see what these guys can do over the course of their careers. We liked them when they were here, they did everything right.

Outside of Boston, could there be a better fit for Eddie House than New York?

No, I think it’s perfect. When Eddie was with Phoenix, with Mike D’Antoni, it was some of the best basketball he’s played in his career. He just continued that here with us, but I think even New York they switch a lot and play an uptempo game, so it doesn’t put as much focus on the defensive end, they get shots up so much quicker. It’s kind of one thing that gets them by. As a team they play at a faster pace and their offense is some of their defense. I think it’s perfect for Eddie.

Can that style win or do you think they will have to make changes?

I think any style can win in the end, it all has to do with what players you have. It’s interesting, they have guys that have not been good individual defenders throughout the course of their career. Right now they are struggling. The team is putting up points but they are struggling to win games, and most of it is because of the defense, but I don’t think it’s because of the style. I don’t think they have good individual defenders on their team right now.

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