Following a disappointing loss to the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday night, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge spoke at length about the team’s recent struggles and the lack of motivation on his weekly visit with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich.
“I wish I had an answer,” Ainge said about the lack of consistency. “I feel like we’re down a man to three men almost every night, and I don’t know if they don’t have confidence in everybody on the team or if it’s just a personal thing – where I see adversity having an impact.”
Ainge spoke specifically in regards to the Mavericks loss, where the Celtics fell behind 20 points early, putting them in another position to dig out of a deep hole.
The man dubbed “Trader Danny” put the blame on the players for the lack of motivation, not head coach Brad Stevens, calling the notion that the head coach must be a motivator “way overrated.”
“I say it all the time when we’re drafting players: ‘How self-motivated is he?’” Ainge said. “You’re playing 100 games in an NBA season, and you’re practicing each day, and if you’re not self-motivated, you’re not going to succeed.”
Ainge continued speaking on Stevens’ role in the recent struggles, saying, “Brad has zero responsibility for shooting 5-for-34 from three last night, on most of them being open shots. He doesn’t have responsibility when players improvise and are playing with a lack of emotion after missed shots.”
Looking forward, Ainge put responsibility on all parties involved to right the ship, while also acknowledging the fact the Celtics have dealt with consistent injury or health and safety protocol-related absences. The team still has five games remaining on the homestand and should be getting players back in the coming days.
“We’re trying to identify how we can get the team to best perform, and without anything else, we really do need to get healthy – we have different players out every night and there’s not a lot of time to practice,” he said.
Ainge set a rough timetable for Tristan Thompson’s return from the Health and Safety Protocols as well. He will take his cardiac test as early as tomorrow (standard practice in the league’s COVID protocols) and could be back next week.
Despite highlighting the unlucky streak of injuries, Ainge still said motivation is lacking.
“Having said that, effort is the one thing that should be consistent,” Ainge added.
The Celtics look to end their recent skid Friday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. against the Houston Rockets, who have won just two of their last 20 games.