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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?
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Ainge: ‘Embarrassing’ for LeBron to complain about officiating 03.28.13 at 5:54 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 was asked for his take on LeBron James and the officiating in Wednesday’s game between the Heat and the Bulls, a contest where Miami’s 27-game win streak came to an end.

In the game — a physical affair that saw the Bulls try and get physical with the Heat, including one hard shot from Kirk Heinrich on James — James was hit with a flagrant foul 1 for a shot he put on Chicago’s Carlos Boozer. After the game, the Miami star unleashed on the officials, saying he was just trying to defend himself.

“It’s been happening all year, and I’ve been able to keep my cool and try to tell [Heat coach Erik Spoelstra], ‘Let’s not worry about it,’ ” James told reporters. “But it is getting to me a little bit. Every time I try to defend myself, I’ve got to face the consequences of a flagrant or a technical foul or whatever the case may be. It’s tough. It’s very tough.”

“I think the referees got the calls right. I don’t think it was a hard foul,” Ainge said of the mixups involving James and Heinrich, as well as another one involving James and Taj Gibson. “I think the one involving LeBron against Boozer, that was flagrant. I think the officials got it right.

“I think that it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating,” Ainge added.

For more Celtics coverage, check out weei.com/celtics.

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Green Day: Layup at the buzzer gives Celtics win in Cleveland 03.27.13 at 10:19 pm ET
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Jeff Green capped a furious 21-6 run over the final eight minutes with a layup at the buzzer to allow the Celtics to sneak out of Cleveland with a 93-92 victory over the Cavaliers. Green split the Cavs defense and hit a layup as the buzzer sounded to permit the Celtics to snap a five-game losing streak.

Green, despite shooting 7-of-18, scored 21 points with seven rebounds and five assists. Paul Pierce added a well-rounded 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, though he committed seven turnovers. Brandon Bass, in the lineup with both Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee still sidelined, poured in 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting with five rebounds.

The Cavs had six players in double figures, but none with more than 16. Cleveland had just one bucket after taking an 88-78 lead at the 5:49 mark of the fourth quarter.

For the full recap of the game, click here. For more Celtics coverage, visit weei.com/celtics.

Without Kevin Garnett, Courtney Lee, Celtics’ road woes continue with loss to Grizzlies 03.23.13 at 10:49 pm ET
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Playing without Kevin Garnett (foot) or Courtney Lee (ankle), the Celtics couldn’€™t recover from a horrific second quarter in dropping a 110-106 decision to the Grizzlies in Memphis Saturday night.

After finishing the first quarter with a two-point lead, the Celtics were outscored, 32-20, in the second quarter. It led to Memphis’€™ 10th straight home win.

The Celtics mounted a spirited fourth-quarter comeback, having entered the final quarter down 12 points. The C’€™s, however, managed to close the gap to two with 19 seconds remaining on a pair of Jordan Crawford (21 points, 26 minutes) free throws.

The Celts could have drawn with a point with eight seconds left when Jason Terry was fouled taking a three-pointer. But the guard only made two of his three foul shots, allowing Memphis to hold off the visitors.

The Grizzlies made all six of their free throw attempts after Crawford made it a two-point game.

The loss was the Celtics’€™ fourth straight defeat, and first loss to at FedEx Forum in their last six visits. It was also Doc Rivers‘€™ team’€™s fifth consecutive road loss, dropping to 2-12 against Western Conference teams on their home floors.

Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 26 points, while both Terrence Williams and Chris Wilcox contributed off the bench, each making all four of their shots from the floor.

Jerryd Bayless led all scorers with 30 points off the bench for Memphis.

Danny Ainge: Wednesday victory over Pacers ‘was a good win’ 03.07.13 at 8:10 pm ET
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Making his weekly appearance on ‘€œThe Big Show’€ Thursday afternoon, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge discussed a number of topics, including that fact that Wednesday night’s dramatic win over the Pacers in Indiana was one of the best of the season for the Celtics. (To hear the entire interview, check out The Big Show audio on demand page.)

“Last night was a good win for us — obviously, to hang in there and score the last 11 points of the game …. I don’t think we played particularly well throughout the course of the game, but they really [ground] it out. It look like when we came all the way back and tied it up, and then they went out and hit those three straight 3’s to go up nine, that was not looking promising, but you’ve got to credit Doc. He called a quick time out, got the guys reorganized, went on a couple of runs ourselves in that last fourth quarter stretch and executed perfectly on that last play.”

On the last play–did you know what was coming? “No, I actually thought it was going to be with Avery holding the ball, I thought it was going to be a KG and Paul pindown for Paul to catch and curl and make a play in the free-throw line area. Or, for Paul to catch and then set a quick pick-and-roll — a step-up pick-and-roll with KG … most likely leading to a KG jumpshot at the elbow. That’s what it looked like the formation was set up to be when Avery was holding the ball.”

When is last time time this team set up a play for a last-second shot for someone like Jeff Green? That shows me that they’re trusting and starting to grow with Jeff. “Yeah, I think — by the way that wasn’t a great pass by KG. But it was a great catch. So there was … we had run a play in Utah that we had we sort of botched that turned into a Paul Pierce stepback jumper that we normally see. But that wasn’t what the play was called, and it was poorly executed. There are going to be times where … like the play that was called there was for Jeff. That was sort of the first option on the play. But had it not worked — good defense will sniff that out. What happened was David West, who was guarding Jeff, reached for the ball, tried to pike it away from KG as he ran by, and was completely blindsided by the screen that Paul set. And of course, Paul’s man is not going to come off the body and that allowed the play to happen too. So it was great execution, it was poor defense. We’ll take it.”

On the importance of getting home court and a home seed down the stretch: “I think that it’s secondary to health and rest and freshness. Nothing is more important than fresh bodies. We see what happened with KG when he has a few days off and how he’s responded. It’s not a perfect science; you can’t predict it. The temptation is to continue to grind and push and fight for every win. I personally — I’ll let Doc make these decisions — but between Doc, KG and I, we’ll try to figure it out. We have to trust KG to talk to us, and I think that he is more willing to do that than he ever has in his career. I think he’s wiser and sort of gets it. So I think we need to figure out what’s best for him. And not just for him but for Paul. Paul has been playing with a sore neck — when we went in a really bad stretch after winning six in a row and I saw every day during that stretch just really in pain. And as we started, I don’t think it was a coincidence that Paul started feeling a lot better. So I think those are two guys — and Jason Terry. I think with the addition of Jordan Crawford, Doc doesn’t have to ride him as much, and we can really save him for when he’s big, like he was last night. Last night, he was big at both ends of the court down the stretch. He’s a guy who is experienced and completely unafraid of any moment.”

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Celtics find themselves with second straight road victory, beating Philadelphia 03.05.13 at 9:48 pm ET
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The Celtics took a step toward turning over a new leaf with a convincing road victory Tuesday night, beating the Sixers, 109-101, in Philadelphia. It improved the Celts to 11-18 away from TD Garden this season, and marked just the second time Boston has claimed back-to-back road victories.

The Celts, who had lost six of their last seven games in Philly, slowly built their lead, having held a 53-46 halftime lead. While the Sixers had been slumping, losing eight of their last nine games, had claimed 17 of their 23 victories this season at home.

Leading the way for the Celtics’ offense was Avery Bradley, who scored 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor.

Paul Pierce also contributed with 18 points (4-for-4 on three-pointers) and 10 rebounds, while Kevin Garnett also netted 18.

Contributing off the bench for the C’s, who finished shooting 50 percent from the floor, were Jeff Green (16 points), and newly-acquired Jordan Crawford, who added 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor. The C’s also moved to 18-4 when scoring over 100 points.

The Celtics did commit a season-high 22 turnovers, this after turning the ball over just twice in the first quarter.

For a complete recap, click here.

Danny Ainge: Big part of the second half involves getting Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce healthy 02.28.13 at 5:24 pm ET
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In his weekly appearance on “The Big Show” Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge talked about a variety of topics, including why Boston didn’t make more deals at the trade deadline and the health of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Ainge was asked as to whether he was concerned at all about the fatigue level of Pierce and Garnett, the latter of whom sat out Friday’s game against the Suns.

“Yes, I always am. Paul and KG have been incredibly durable throughout their entire careers,” Ainge said. “They take good care of themselves, but I do think that they need rest. If we have any chance of winning playoff basketball games, we need those guys fresh, healthy. Paul’s neck thing I think comes and goes, but there was a stretch I think when we were in that losing streak, I actually think that might have been one of the biggest factors. Paul was not 100 percent and yet he continued to play. That’s just who Paul is.

“I think Doc is determined to cut those guys’ minutes down now that we have a little bit more depth on the bench and we get some more bodies in here. That’s a big part of the second half of the season — getting them healthy.”

Ainge also talked about the remarkable run of LeBron James, calling him the “best player in our game today, without question. When it’s all said and done, he could be one of the best players of all time.”

“He’s one of those guys, the first time I ever saw him, in the first five minutes, I questioned whether he could be one of the best basketball players who ever lived,’ recalled Ainge. “And he was 17 years old at the time and he had a similar body — he’s probably 10 or 15 pounds heavier now, but he was so gifted, because he not only could shoot, pass and dribble, but he was the smartest guy on the court. The most intense guy on the court. The most unselfish guy on the court.

“I’ve been one of those people who know that LeBron is not perfect, and he’s been under the microscope since he’s been a young man. I think he’s done a pretty good job handling all this stuff and he continues to get better. Now, people are having to have the conversation about him and Michael Jordan. I think it’s still too early, but he’s getting better. And like Michael, now he’s starting to make mid-range jump shots, 3-point shots, and he’s virtually unguardable with one person. You need two and three people to guard him. If he’s making shots, you just have to tip your cap and pray that he misses.”

Here are some more highlights of the Q&A:
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