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Danny Ainge on The Big Show: ‘One of best games Rondo’s ever played’

Celtics [1] president Danny Ainge joined The Big Show to talk about Wednesday’s night victory over the Spurs, the importance of Jermaine O’Neal [2] and who among the big four is the most irreplaceable. Ainge called Rajon Rondo’s performance, “one of the best games Rondo’s ever played,” but Ainge was more impressed by his defense against Tony Parker [3], than his triple-double stat line.

“Not only did he control the game offensively — he had a lot of assists last night because Ray [Allen [4]] was shooting the ball so well. His numbers can be deceiving. His defense against Tony Parker, he was fighting through the screens. I think the two games he played prior to that he was just out there. I don’t think he was playing 100 percent. I don’t think he could. He was just out there just to get us in our offense. It was helpful but he wasn’t playing the defense like he did.”

Ainge also noted Allen’s night, in which the veteran sharpshooter made 13-of-16 shots with many coming off the same play. “I don’t know who else in the league can do what Ray did last night. Just catching and shooting going away from the basket off down screens, other than guys like Reggie Miller [5] and Dale Ellis, there really aren’t that many guys that are proficient at it.”

Here are more highlights from the interview:

On Jermaine O’Neal:

I think it’s going to take some time simply because we don’t really look for Shaq and Jermaine for big offensive production. We’re looking for them to be defensive players and rebounders and those guys are used to being scorers in their careers and I think that they still look at themselves as being able to contribute offensively. But Jermaine is a little bit out of rhythm offensively right now, but that’s the least of anyone’s concern on the team. That will come with consistent minutes and consistent playing time for him. I’m not worried about that at all. he’s providing what we need with the rebounding and the defense.

On his expectations:

I love our team. I wish we could have gotten through the first month and a half without any injuries of course. When [Shaquille O’Neal [6]] missed early in the season and Jermaine’s out right after training camp, Semih [Erden] had some health issues. To lose Rajon and [Kevin Garnett [7]], it’s put a little strain on Paul [Pierce [8]] and Ray, but those guys seem great. Paul threw down a dunk the other night in Toronto, Paul’s looked as fresh this year as I’ve seen him in the last couple of years. KG looks great and the injury to him is not serious. I’m pretty happy. I’m excited about it. We know Delonte [West [9]] and [Kendrick Perkins [10]] will both be back sometime in February and I think the prospects are looking great.

On who is the most irreplaceable player on the team:

I don’t know if there is one. It would be pretty tough to replace any one of our big four. For the course of the season we have a great deal of depth, we can overcome an injury to anybody for a short period of time. I think we probably have the least experience behind Paul right now. I would say Paul would be the toughest to replace in the short-term, especially with Delonte being out. We have enough depth to get by the season with any one player being out with an injury.

To win a championship, if we didn’t have any one of those four guys it would be very difficult.