Ainge standing pat with current Celtics . . . for now


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.

Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'


Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'

Malcolm Butler didn't mean any disrespect. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 


When the Patriots corner picked off a Landry Jones pass in the first quarter -- one that was intended for receiver Antonio Brown -- Butler stood up in the end zone, faced the Heinz Field crowd, stuck one arm in the air But and gyrated like someone had attached jumper cables to his facemask. 

He was doing his best to mimick one of Brown's well-known touchdown dances.

"Me and Brown had conversation before," Butler said, "and it was a joke to him once I showed him how I do it. Much love for that guy. Nothing personal."

For Butler, it was the highlight of what was a productive afternoon. The third-year corner was asked to shadow Brown for much of the day, and he held Brown to five catches on nine targets for 94 yards. He also broke up a pair of passes intended for Brown's teammates.

“Stopping Antonio Brown, that’s impossible," Butler said. "You can’t stop him. You can only slow him down. I just went out there and tried to compete today . . . Great players are going to make plays but you have to match their intensity.”
Even on the longest throw from backup quarterback Landry Jones to Brown, a 51-yarder, it appeared as though Butler played the coverage called correctly. 

Butler lined up across from Brown and trailed him underneath as Brown worked his way from the left side of the field to the right. Butler was looking for some help over the top in that scenario, seemingly, but because Brown ran across the formation, it was hard for the back end of the defense to figure out who would be helping Butler. 

Coach Bill Belichick admitted as much after the game. 

"He was on [Brown] a lot the way we set it up," Belichick said. "Look, they've got great players. They're tough to cover. They hit us on a couple over routes, in cut where they kind of ran away from the coverage that we had. 

"The plays were well designed. Good scheme, good thorws and obviously good routes by Brown. They got us on a couple, but I thought we competed hard. We battled all the way. We battled on third down. We battled in the red area. They made some. We made some, but they're good. They have a lot of good players."

And Brown, in particular, is about as close as it gets to unstoppable in the NFL. Butler found that out in Week 1 of last year when he matched up with Brown in his first game as a starter, giving up 9 catches for 133 yards to the All-Pro wideout. 

Though Sunday might not have been perfect for Butler, it was better than that day about 14 months ago. And at times, it was worth dancing about. 

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

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