|Danny Ainge on Big Show: Paul Pierce close to returning, Celtics ‘horrendous’ defensively, Heat beatable||12.30.11 at 5:24 pm ET|
Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge joined The Big Show Friday, expressing disappointment in the team’s 0-3 start to the season, but saying he ultimately isn’t overly concerned.
Forward Paul Pierce has yet to play this season due to a bone bruise on his right heel, but Ainge said he might be available Friday night against the Pistons.
“Paul is doing better this morning,” Ainge said. “I think it will be a game-time decision with the trainer and just sort of how he feels pre-game. It’s looking better, and we’re very encouraged that he’s going to be back soon.”
Ainge said he is not worried the injury could nag Pierce throughout the season.
“I’m not worried that it’s going to linger now,” he said. “I mean, I think that had he started to play when he really wanted to play, which is opening night, I was worried about it then, but the rest has been beneficial for Paul. Even though the team has missed paul, it’s been better for him to not play these first three games.”
There’s plenty that Pierce brings to the table, and Ainge said the team has missed him in key situations in the second halves of games.
“Paul is our best forward. Him and Ray [Allen], the combination of them makes it a double-edged sword. You have to really have two good defenders out there on the wings at all times. You have to have the attention on the floor spread. And he’s a closer. Having two closers out there, Ray has played very well offensively for us, but we need another weapon. Paul has been greatly missed on the offensive end, and probably closing games more than beginning games. It would be nice to have him out there, no question.”
As for the team’s play, Ainge said that while he’s unhappy with the start, it’s clear that they’re playing without one of their top players in Pierce.
“Obviously we feel 0-3 is not good,” he said. “It would have been nice to win one or two of the games anyway, starting off with the tough schedule. I think that I’m not worried about it because we haven’t had Paul, and we’re not in sync. This is not our team. I’ve also watched every team play so far in the early season, and it’s very common. There’s a lot of teams that are out of sync, have a lot of new players and a lot of new faces. I’m not overly worried right now. I think this next couple of weeks will tell us a little bit more about who we are.”
Added Ainge: “We are out of sync. Our defense has been horrendous, actually. We’ve had some good moments, some good stretches, and ironically our zone defense has probably been better than our man-to-man defense. Our man-to-man defense is definitely out of sync, and we’ve missed the continuity of having Paul out there, but the guys that have replaces – Marquis [Daniels] has done a decent job and Sasha [Pavlovic] has done a decent job — it’s more of we just haven’t done a good job. I think Ray and Rajon [Rondo] and [Kevin Garnett], guys that have been here in the past, all need to do a better job of stopping the ball. ‘¦ We’ve got to stop the penetration and do a better job on the perimeter and not put so much pressure on the interior defense.”
Swingman Mickael Pietrus, whom the team signed prior to the season, is still getting familiar with the team’s system and has yet to play this season.
“He’s not ready,” Ainge said. “He’s going to be fine. He just needs a week or 10 days to get in game shape and get familiar with our set. ‘¦ Pietrus is probably anywhere from a week to two weeks away. We don’t have an exact date yet.”
The Celtics’ second loss of the season came to Heat, who are favorites to win it all this season. Ainge said the Heat, who eliminated the C’s last season in the playoffs, are good, but not invincible.
“They’re definitely the favorites. I don’t believe they’re unbeatable. I believe they’re very good, and they probably should be the favorites, but time will tell. It’s a long season — it’s actually a short season, but a lot of games in a short amount of time — and we’ll be able to answer that question a little later in the year.”
|Live Blog: Celtics, Knicks kick off NBA season at Madison Square Garden||12.25.11 at 11:44 am ET|
|Shaquille O’Neal confirms move to TNT||07.14.11 at 11:41 am ET|
Shaquille O’Neal’s move to TNT as an analyst has been made official, as Turner Sports announced Thursday that a multi-year deal had been reached. The 15-time all-star also announced the move on Tout.com.
O’Neal, who played the final year of his career with the Celtics, will join Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson on Inside the NBA and also be an analyst for The NBA Finals, All Star weekend and the NBA draft.
In 1,207 career games, O’Neal had 28,596 points and 13,099 points. He announced his retirement following last season, a campaign in which he was limited to 37 regular-season games and two postseason contests.
|JaJuan Johnson on D&C: I just want to learn from veterans||06.28.11 at 10:15 am ET|
Given that the Celtics are a veteran team that hopes to compete for a title, the 27th overall pick may have a hard time finding regular minutes, something Johnson said he’s ready to deal with.
“I don’t expect too much,” Johnson said. “Really, this year I just want to take in as much as I can from those older guys. Just learn from those guys and really just continue to get better as a player.”
The 221-pound forward is trying to bulk up so he is better-suited to play forward in the NBA. Johnson said that it’s a matter of diet, which he hopes to get straightened out in short order.
“When I was back in Chicago, I had a chef, and he was cooking for me every day, pretty much helping me with calories, the amount of calories I needed to put in each day,” he said. “Once I get in [to Boston on Thursday] I’ll get back on track.”
As for having his college teammate join him in Boston, Johnson seemed thrilled. E’Twaun Moore, with whom Johnson played at Purdue, was taken by the C’s in the second round.
“It’s a huge comfort factor,” Johnson said of the team also drafting Moore. “He was with me freshman year, in college. To have somebody else at this stage is almost unheard of. It’s definitely a blessing to have him with me.”
Johnson said he was told by Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge that he was coming to a respectable organization, and noted that he’s ready to do whatever he can to help it.
“It’s a team with tradition,” he said. “They do things the right way. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m willing to put in all that work, just to become a better player.”
|Cavs make Kyrie Irving first overall selection||06.23.11 at 7:47 pm ET|
Duke guard Kyrie Irving was taken with the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft Thursday night, going to the Cavaliers. A 6-foot-3, 193-pound guard who only played 11 games this past season with Duke, he averaged 17.5 points and 4.3 assists per game with the Blue Devils.
|AP: Doc, Celtics working on a new multiyear deal||05.12.11 at 7:52 pm ET|
The AP quotes a source saying the deal would be for ‘more than two or three years.’ Celtics GM Danny Ainge did not return calls to the AP, but did acknowledge in an on-air appearance with WEEI’s ‘Big Show’ on Thursday that the sides were working on a long-term deal. After Miami eliminated Boston on Wednesday night, Rivers sounded like a man who was intent on returning to the Celtics’ bench.
‘I haven’t made that decision, but I can tell you I probably will,’ he said. ‘I’m a Celtic and I love our guys. I want to win again here, and I’m competitive as hell. I have a competitive group, so we’ll see. I can tell you that is where I am at today. Tomorrow I may change my mind, but that’s where I am at today.’
To listen to Ainge’s full interview, click here.
|Celtics-Heat Live Blog Game 5 from Miami||05.11.11 at 6:34 pm ET|
Join WEEI.com’s Celtics beat writer Paul Flannery from Miami and Celtics writers Ben Rohrbach and Mike Petraglia for a live blog of tonight’s do-or-die Game 5 for the Celtics as they try to stay alive in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Heat.