Danny Ainge isn’t going to blow his cool and start pointing fingers after the Celtics fell into an 0-2 deficit against the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. While appearing on CSNNE’s Toucher & Rich, Ainge said that the criticism being leveled at coach Brad Stevens’ for the Celtics’ disappointing play was “fair,” but he doesn’t agree with that sentiment. Ainge had the following to say about those critiques, per MassLive’s Tom Westerholm:
"I think anything is fair. I don't agree with [the critics], but I haven't written this series off yet either. I don't even want to go there. I think that anything is fair. Sure. Any criticism is fair."
With infographics like the one below, Stevens is taking heat for his 2-10 postseason record in Boston over the last three years:
Brad Stevens is now 2-10 in the postseason.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 19, 2017
That's the worst record by any coach in playoff history (min. 10 games). pic.twitter.com/SpUJD4PrSi
Here’s what Ainge said regarding Stevens’ playoff record:
You could obviously go down the list. It's the first time we've been a favorite in a game that we haven't won, and I think there are pretty unusual circumstances. I just think the coaching isn't the issue. That's my opinion, and everybody is entitled to their own opinions. I think he's a fantastic coach.
Just like with almost anything in life, this requires some context. Stevens’ Celtics team in 2015 had a losing record at 40-42 when they faced off against LeBron James and the second-seeded Cavaliers. The eventual Eastern Conference champions promptly swept Boston in a series that the team didn’t have chance of winning in the slightest. Last year against the Hawks, who also possessed a 48-34 record, the Celtics’ playoff inexperience was on display against a team ripe with roster continuity and they lost in six games.
It’s easy to write off the Cleveland series and even last season’s matchup with the Hawks to a degree, but this series against Chicago is the first time the Celtics have been clear playoff favorites in years. While dropping the first two games of the first round at home is far from ideal, it wouldn’t be wise to underestimate Stevens’ ability to flip this series just yet.