Ainge: Bradley's return raised Celtics intensity level

Ainge: Bradley's return raised Celtics intensity level
January 16, 2013, 11:13 pm
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If the Celtics can end up in the same place they found themselves at the end of last season -- just a few minutes away from winning Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals -- they'd certainly take it. So it might be taken as good news that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge thinks this season is closely resembles the way in which the last one played out.

Ainge sat down with Comcast SportsNet's Greg Dickerson to discuss all things Celtics: their start to the season, Avery Bradley's impact, Kevin Garnett's energy level and more.

When asked to assess the Celtics to this point, Ainge thought back 12 months.

"Very much like last season," Ainge said. "I think we got off to a slow start. I didn't think our motivation night in and night out was where it needed to be. I didn't believe the confidence in one another was where you would like it. But these last seven games, even though it's only six (wins) in a row, these last seven we've played much harder."

Ainge tried to explain the slow start as the by product of having a veteran team that knows just how long a season can feel once it gets into the spring.

"I think it's just a challenge. The season is a grind," Ainge said. "They know it. It's a marathon."

But, as anyone who follows the team could tell you, Ainge acknowledged that something changed when Avery Bradley returned to the floor after recovering from offseason shoulder surgeries.

"I don't know what it is, but when Avery came back, it seemed like there was more confidence in one another," Ainge said. "It was like he was a guy that could bring energy to us. That sort of supplied the energy.

"It wasn't like Avery was playing great, other than he was bringing amazing defensive energy and cohesion to the team," Ainge continued. "When he arrived, all of a sudden, each player, you could see their intensity rise."

Even with Kevin Garnett, that was the case. The team's defensive stalwart and emotional leader lacked for energy at times, Ainge thought. Even though he always brings his best, Ainge explained that it's sometimes up to Garnett's teammates to really get the most out of him.

"I think KG would tell you he brings it every night, and I believe that . . . But sometimes even Kevin needs confidence that his teammates will bring it too," Ainge said. "He can't do it by himself. I think KG may have benefited from Avery's return as much as anybody."

Check out the rest of the above video for more from Ainge's point of view.