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Ainge on Big Show: Celtics ‘not in sync’

06.09.10 at 8:58 pm ET
By
Danny Ainge (AP)

Danny Ainge (AP)

A day after the Celtics’ crushing home loss to the Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA finals, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his weekly call into The Big Show to talk about Ray Allen, rebounds and pulling momentum away from LA.

“We’re just not in sync for whatever reason, offensively and defensively, we’re not playing like the team that won six games in a row against Cleveland and Orlando,” said Ainge. “If we’re going to win the series, we’re going to have to get back to playing like that team.”

A transcript of the interview follows. To listen to the interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.

As a player, do you find that if there’s inconsistency with the officiating, it’s more difficult to get into the rhythm of your game?

I think that each game is an adjustment for each player. In a lot of cases, you have to adjust to how the game is being played and how the game is being called. That’s all you can control. A lot of players play their whole careers and don’t ever get in foul trouble, some get in foul trouble more often than others, but you got to figure it out.

Could you explain to us how Ray Allen can make all those huge shots in Game 2, and then get the same looks in Game 3 and go 0-for-13?

Well, I would have a major dispute in what you just said. I think that the quality of looks was completely different. I think that the open shots and the rhythm, in the game that he made them, even though it was spectacular, some of the shots that he made in that game — I think that when you make a few, the basket gets big and you’re just in one of those zones. He was in that way in Game 2.

In Game 3 yesterday, he had three or four jump shots blocked. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ray do that, so that would tell me those aren’t open shots. I think that he was taking shots he shouldn’t have been taking. I think he should have been ball faking and attacking the rim — which he did very late in the game. [He] got us a couple of easy baskets off his penetration and dish-offs. I think you got to read it; if you’re open on the three-point line, you take them and if they’re running at you, you got to go by them and make a play.

It seemed that his release point was much slower and not as high. Did his earlier run-in with Ron Artest possibly affect his shot?

Yeah, I think that he was not getting the same lift that [he had] early in the game. I think that the Artest knee to the thigh was clearly bothering him. Despite all of that, late in the game, he was able to go by the guys because they were closing on him so fast. I thought he was rushing them.

He had a few open looks, but of the 10 3′s he had the game before, nine of them were pretty rhythmic shots. I would say only a few in this game were, and when you’re out of sync, it’s not the same. I thought that he was rushing them. I thought that he had a chance to put the ball on the floor a lot, and I know Ray will see that and watch that and he’ll be more prepared for what the best option is next game.

For the first three games of this series, we have yet to see all of the Big Three in action in the same game. How much credit do you give to the Lakers for taking away key players and how much do you believe that’s the Celtics’ fault for getting in foul trouble or just out of rhythm?

I think that it’s a combination. The Lakers are a very good team and they’re executing their offense, and some of our fouls just aren’t smart. We’re wasting some fouls, doing silly things. You can’t do that. When you’re a key player on the team, you’ve got to be able to use your fouls wisely and I don’t think we’re doing a good enough job doing that. We’re getting out of position, which is causing us to react.

We’re just not in sync for whatever reason, offensively and defensively, we’re not playing like the team that won six games in a row against Cleveland and Orlando. If we’re going to win the series, we’re going to have to get back to playing like that team.

We’ve seen this towards the ends of halves and quarters this series; Rajon Rondo is trapped on the outside into taking long jump shots instead of driving to the hole, isn’t that what the defense wants him to do?

Well yeah, we have not been good at executing at the end of quarters [for] most of the year, but the biggest disaster is what happened last night when Nate [Robinson] penetrated and kicked it out to Rasheed [Wallace] for an open jump shot. [There was] a long rebound and not only do we miss the shot, but we give up three points the other way because the shot was taken too quick.

It’s a double whammy because most teams don’t score at the same rate at the end of quarters because you usually want that last shot and you wait for the last shot. You can’t really dictate when you’re holding the ball, dribbling and waiting for six seconds before you start an offense. Almost every defense in this league can guard anybody for six seconds and that’s really a challenge so you rarely get a great shot off in that scenario because you can split screen and rolls because you hardly ever have a chance to take advantage of them and it’s difficult.

Again, I think that we can do better and I know we can do better.

How did you guys do on the 50-50 ball?

You know what, I didn’t see that stat, so it must not have been — usually that’s something that we talk about if it’s a big advantage or one way or another, or yeah the Lakers get an advantage on us. I think it must have been fairly close, that play was a tough play. It looks like our guys – [Kevin Garnett] was going, tapping that ball and our guys went, anticipating running because we were trying to take advantage of the rebounds, which we were doing early on in the game. KG lost control of the tap and Kobe [Bryant] saved it and [Andrew] Bynum was still hanging around the rim and [Kendrick Perkins] had already leaked out because he thought we had possession of the ball.

We were able to take advantage of that, if KG does get it, we were getting lay-ins at the other end. And you saw one where Bynum saved it, or [Pau] Gasol, I can’t remember, and Rajon jumped in front and laid it in, so we got one of those back in the other end in a very similar manner.

On a loose ball, it always seems like the ball ends up in the hands of the Lakers. How does that keep happening? How much of that is due to the Lakers’ concentration and how much of that is due to the Celtics beating their chests after making a defensive stop?

I think it’s happened in two of the three games. I think that in the one game we won, we did a better job of securing the loose balls and getting rebounds. Last night, I thought that there were a few that were just unlucky. The one where Paul Pierce had really good rebound position and the long shot rebound – [Lamar] Odom with his length, was just able to reach over the top of Paul Pierce. Paul had him boxed out 15 feet away, but it was just a long rebound.

That was a big discussion and sometimes you do everything right and you still don’t get the ball. There was a few of those, but we’ve got to do a better job, it’s that simple. We can’t win this series if we don’t play defense and rebound like we did in those six games where we became the team that we all recognized and hoped we could all become.

Concerning the instant replay rule that was used a few times in the last two minutes, it seems like there could be a call with 45 minutes to go that would be just as important as one with two minutes to go, but it wouldn’t be reviewed. How do you feel about that?

You know, I thought that there were two calls in the third quarter that were tipped out by the Lakers and they gave the ball to the Lakers. I was wishing that we could have replayed those. At the end of the game, it’s one of the toughest calls for officials, who knocked the ball out of bounds? You can see at the end of games, that’s really all you can replay. You can’t replay fouls and you can’t replay most things. You can see if it was a two-pointer or a 3-pointer and you can replay who hit the ball out of bounds in the last two minutes of the game.

I think you saw, there were three replays at the end of the game, in the last two minutes of the game, officials didn’t know the call and they wanted to review it. You can see how difficult that is, but you’re right. Throughout the course of the game, I thought that some of those were missed and I would have like to have those replayed as well.

Are you concerned that the players on the Lakers are taller than those on the Celtics roster?

You know what, that’s an advantage they have, we understand that, but like in Game 2, we were able to get the rebounds that we needed. I think we can. That’s an advantage of theirs, but I don’t think that it’s something we can’t overcome. We have advantages and that’s one of theirs.

If you get a clean rebound, you’re going to have good numbers going the other way because they’ll only send three guys down that way on a fast break.

Right, you’ve seen stretches in this series where we’ve been able to do that; get up and run when we get the defense rebound. Again, that emphasizes that’s what we have to do, we have to stop penetration, [and] secure the ball. I think that this series has been ten or twelve times where we’ve had the ball in our hands, or we should have had the ball in our hands, and it comes loose and they end up with it.
We have to do a better job of just catching and finishing off the defensive pressure.

Is the organization concerned with the system of having at least one day off between games?

I’m not. We’ve played back-to-backs and everything over the course of the season and that shouldn’t be a factor. Our guys are fairly healthy. [Some have] got bumps and bruises here and there, but that should not be a factor at all.

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