Ainge standing pat with current Celtics . . . for now

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Ainge standing pat with current Celtics . . . for now

The rest of Celtics Nation may be hitting the panic button and calling for a major shakeup, but the man with the power to do something isn't.

Danny Ainge is sticking by his team, even if they aren't doing anything to make him look good right now.

The Celtics fell to 14-17 on the season after a 93-83 loss to the Grizzlies Wednesday night. That, of course, came after a disastrous west coast trip in which the Celtics were smoked by the Clippers, Warriors, and Kings. Yes, the Kings.

"Well I think our team is not playing well, obviously, but I see some good signs," Ainge told WEEI on Thursday. "I thought last night was a step forward. We don't have moral victories, but I thought our effort was better. We're still out of sync offensively. I think defensively has been the biggest problem throughout the course of the year, but last night I think our problems came more with the halfcourt offense.

Ainge is right; the defense has, in a word, stunk. Boston is giving up an average of 97.9 points per game this season (17th in the NBA), 8.6 points more than the 89.3 they allowed last season (2nd in the NBA). He feels that while the defense hasn't been up to par, "that can be fixed with attitude and health and practice time. I really do believe that."

Pressed further to touch upon Rajon Rondo's defense specifically, Ainge mentioned that he's like more consistency, but wasn't about to point a finger only at Rondo.

"I think that Rondo needs to get more consistent effort defensively like all of our guys," Ainge said. "I always hate to pinpoint one guy, but the ball at the point of attack is huge for us, and Rondo has a lot of offensive responsibility. But I do think we need to give a better effort all around, not just Rondo."

That means the starters as well as the revamped bench. Nobody, except maybe the rookie Jared Sullinger, has played up to Ainge's standards this season.

"For whatever reason, I'm not sure if they're incapable or not, or if they can't physically, but time will tell. The reality of it is that they haven't. And it's not just the new guys. I don't think that the veteran guys who have been here have played to the best of their capabilities either."

So does that mean Ainge is ready to shake things up as he's done in the past? Not quite. We may not see the same starting lineup in the next few games, but we'll most likely see the same players. With Avery Bradley back, Ainge wants to give it a shot.

"We're just looking at what we're capable of becoming," Ainge said. "I think we haven't found the right pieces. I think that Doc is probably going to tweak the lineup again and try to do some things different. We'll just try to be patient with this team as long as we can."

I think it's up to the players now. I think that Doc has certainly given them the right words and the right tools to play better. I think these next couple weeks are going to be huge to see where we are. We're starting to get healthy. I think that Rondo is still not healthy. I think he's played the last few games banged up and we're not the same when he's not 100 percent. And that's clear."

It's also clear that time is running out for this Celtics team that needs to prove it belongs together, or face the consequences of underachieving.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."