Despite losing 10 of their last 17 games and coughing up double digit leads, President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge is confident that the Celtics can make some noise in the playoffs.
“First of all, I don’t really believe you can flip a switch, but I do believe things can come together: your health, your concentration, your focus can be better,” Ainge told Toucher & Rich on his weekly chat on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Over the last couple of weeks, Gordon Hayward has completed the NBA’s concussion protocol and picked up right where he left off after a successful west coast road trip. On Wednesday, Brad Stevens mentioned how much he’s grown on the defensive end as he’s recovered from his ankle injury from last year. Al Horford and Aron Baynes are easing out of minutes restrictions and Brad Stevens now has the luxury of playing them together and experimenting with lineups he used last year.
“I’m excited right now because our team is getting healthy. We haven’t had Baynes and Horford in the lineup very much this year, Ainge said. “I’m excited where we could be in the playoffs and not just in this game Friday--I think it can be a fun game on Friday night--but we have seven fun games to finish the season.”
Tonight, the Celtics have a chance to leap frog the Pacers in the standings and gain home court advantage against Indiana in the first round. There’s still a handful of other games left in the regular season against opponents fighting for playoff position including another match up at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. While the Celtics may not exactly be the picture of consistency, Ainge remains confident in the good basketball he’s seen versus the disastrous and disjointed collapses the team has suffered from poor play to a seemingly fractured locker room.
“It’s been an up and down year. No doubt about that, but like I said, I really am optimistic,” Ainge reassured. “I don’t want people to think that that’s just a corny line or I have to be, but I don’t have to be and I’m excited for the playoffs. I’m looking forward to it and I think we’re healthier right now, knock on wood, than we have been all season long.” Game #76 tips tonight at 7 pm.