Ainge standing pat with current Celtics . . . for now

Ainge standing pat with current Celtics . . . for now
January 3, 2013, 10:13 pm
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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.