Danny Ainge will not stand for any slander of Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Following the team’s Game 4 loss to Miami, giving the Heat a 3-1 advantage in the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals, some Celtics fans put blame on Stevens for the uninspired performance.
That certainly wasn’t Ainge’s take.
The team’s president of basketball operations did an interview with “Toucher & Rich” on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Thursday. And when asked if he was disappointed with Stevens’ coaching, Ainge responded emphatically.
“Not even a little bit,” Ainge said, as transcribed by Boston.com.
“Last night, we had so many good stretches in the course of the game, you can see that our players are prepared. It’s just being able to sustain it. The turnovers, there were so many of them that were just unforced turnovers. And so that is frustrating. I’ve always been a person that has taken blame as a player.”
Ainge is one of the best executives to offer perspective of the situation, too.
He was drafted by the Celtics in 1981, winning two championships with the team from 1981-89. He also coached the Phoenix Suns before his transition to the front office in Boston.
“I’ve coached in the NBA and understand how hard coaching is,” Ainge said. “I’ve sat on the bench watching one of my players shoot free throws, and thinking, ‘If he makes these free throws I’m a great coach and if he misses I’m a terrible coach,’ and it’s just obviously not the way. That’s just the way that we look at it sometimes. If we had squeaked out a win last night we don’t question anything, but when you lose by three points you question everything.
“I know Brad is the first one to take responsibility and accountability for us not playing well,” said Ainge. “He got the least amount of sleep as anybody last night.”
Stevens has coached Boston since taking over for Doc Rivers in 2013, and has gotten a lot out of each Celtics team he coached, even in the team’s short rebuilding period.
He’ll have the chance to prove doubters wrong for Game 5, but the Celtics have their back against the wall.