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Danny Ainge talks about win over Cavs, health of KG and ‘paying the price’

03.28.13 at 6:01 pm ET
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Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his weekly appearance with “Salk & Holley” Thursday afternoon on WEEI, and he hit on a number of other topics, including what he thought of LeBron’s complaints about the officiating in the wake of Miami’s Wednesday night loss to the Bulls, the keys to Boston’s latest win over the Cavs, the health of Kevin Garnett and what it means to “pay the price.”

Here are some more highlights from the Q&A:

On a much needed win Wednesday night after losing five straight:

“I think that we’re still looking at the big picture, so I don’t really get too caught up in the game-by-game performances. I think there are some individuals who have played well, and some who are not playing well. I think Doc is doing a good job keeping our guys fresh and we’re trying to get through a tough time with all the injuries that we’ve had. It’s a tough time. And at the same time, give ourselves a chance to win in the playoffs.”

On the key to the win over Cavs:

“I don’t know if there’s one play. There are so many plays when you’re down 14 in the fourth quarter. Jordan Crawford gave us a great lift again. He’s been a huge offensive boost for us recently. Even in the losing streak, he’s given us opportunities and chances to win. Paul has had some great moments. I thought last night that we … our defense, we got some stops finally, and that’s what it always boils down to. It seems like our team is just not consistently paying the price that it takes. We aren’t the team we were a few years ago where we have this great margin for error, where we can play at 80 percent and just sort of win with talent. We have to be all in sync and executing and playing with a lot more passion and energy than we’ve been giving over this couple of week stretch, where we’re not playing very good basketball. We don’t have very much room for error.”

On what it means when you’re “paying the price”:

“I think that it’s just maximum effort on each possession. You hear the term ‘locked in’ often as well, when you’re just really focused and you’re in the right spot. When we’re not — when we’re a half a step late, when we close out short — meaning when we close out to a foot and allow a guy to go up for a shot as opposed to closing out into his body. When we’re defending the screen-and-roll when the defender is up touching his man with his forearm on his hip and we’re into the body going into the screen, as opposed to being a foot away and getting screened. All those little things — the guy who is helping on the screen-and-roll. I mean, there’s just so many little things that you can just tell that we’re just not doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re not doing what we practiced. We’re not doing what it takes to win. And a handful of teams are capable of winning when they’re not doing that night in and night out. Every team has their lapses in the details and the execution on both ends of the court. It’s a long season, and I know what our team is capable of doing. It’s sometimes frustrating when we don’t do it, even though we know the urgency of the [moment].”

On Garnett — what’s the latest?

“Kevin has inflammation in his foot. It’s much better today than it was yesterday. I think he could just use some rest. On top of that, KG just has a little mix of some bruises that could use some healing time as well. He has a sore calf muscle as well. It’s good for him to take some time off and get some fresh. But the biggest concern right now is the inflammation in his foot.”

On connection to 2009 and waiting for KG to come back. Is this anything like 2009?

“I’m not a doctor. I did see the MRIs, though. I was in a meeting with Kevin and Dr. McKeon. I guess the difference in 2009, we thought that he was going to come back. I mean, there were all sorts of reports. Everything started coming out — torn ACL, all these different things. The difference between 2009 and today is Kevin needed surgery in 2009. It was inevitable. And … but the thought was that if he had surgery, he was done for the year. Or can he play til the end of the year and then get surgery at the end of the year. And there was hope that that could happen. That he would be able to play. And it was just inevitable — surgery. And he wasn’t going to damage it any more. It was just a chip or a fragment behind his knee that needed to be removed. And so right now, that’s not the case with KG. I don’t think surgery is inevitable or we need to get through the year and he’ll go in for surgery right after the year. That’s the difference between 09 and now — he has inflammation in the foot. There was soreness. There was swelling. The swelling is going down. And we think two weeks is more than a sufficient time frame for that to heal. We want him fresh and ready to go.”

Could he play right now and you guys are choosing not to play him or are doctors saying not to play him right now?

“What we’re doing is we’re doing what we think is best for KG’s long-term health. And what’s best for the team. Usually it goes hand-in-hand. What’s best for the player and his future is usually what’s best for the team as well. I don’t know if KG could play tonight, if tonight if Game 7 of the NBA Finals. My guess is he probably could. I don’t know how good he would be — he does have a little bit of a limp. It doesn’t matter. Right now, it’s best for him not to play on it and to aggravate it.”

How do you want your players to treat injuries?

“I just want guys to play and execute. To do their job. They can’t worry about who is on the court with them and worry about who is playing and who’s not playing. They really have to concentrate on execution and execute the game plan and because we have no room for error, that’s even more reason to focus and concentrate. We saw how well we played in New York when Rondo went down. We beat Miami without KG and Rondo and Sullinger. Our focus and execution was so much better. We’ve had a lot of games like that this year. We’ve had a lot of games like that this year. Then there are games that seems like they’re getting into the paint every time. We’re not very big and we’re not a very good rebounding team, so when they break us down off the dribble, that just makes our rebounding a disaster. We have to play to our strengths and we have to focus and concentrate. That’s easier said than done. That takes a lot of mental and physical conditioning, and for the average fan out there, they don’t understand what it takes to play 82 games and the great players that you’re playing against, night in and night out. It’s three times the length of a college season. And college coaches can’t even get 19- and 20-year-olds to play hard every game in only 30 games. It’s just something that we deal with. I know we’re a better team than we’ve been playing. If we don’t get healthy and we’re not fresh for the playoffs, our chances are not good. If we are healthy with what we have left — if KG gets back healthy and we stay healthy with the rest of our guys, I think that we can give anybody a scare and upset some of the better teams if we’re healthy and fresh. I like our chances with the character of our team and with Doc Rivers as our coach.”

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