The Boston Celtics Have Turned Things Around

April 30, 2010 – 9:10 am by timgunter

The Boston Celtics are set to take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers starting Saturday in what is sure to be a great series.  If someone would have asked me during the season if I thought that the Celtics would be playoff contenders, I would have told them that they were too old and don’t stand a chance.  Nothing about the Celtics impressed me during the regular season and led me to believe that it was possible they could contend for a title.  After starting off the season 23-5, the Celtics were a .500 team over the final fifty-four games of the regular season and out of all the playoff teams, they tied the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat for the worst home record.

Even after all of that, the Celtics managed to win fifty games and they look as though they have surprisingly turned things around after defeating the Heat in the first round in five games.  Yes, the Heat don’t really have a scoring threat besides Dwyane Wade but the Celtics’ defense is back.  They forced more turnovers and out-rebounded the Heat while going 3-0 at home.  Now as they look to take on LeBron James and Co., the Celtics are healthy and ready to battle it out.  Their overall goal during the regular season was to stay healthy, not to win games or for playoff positioning.

Danny Ainge joined WEEI in Boston to talk about it being good to see that Ray Allen played well against the Heat, how different the Cavaliers are to play in that they can play at two different speeds, and what concerns him most about Cleveland.

On the Heat series being the shortest series that they have played in a long time:

“Yeah you know, game 3 was big.  Obviously that shot that Paul hit.  I didn’t think that we played as well in Miami.  We had good stretches.  We gave up seventy-seven and seventy-six points in the first two games at home and then we went down there and gave up one hundred both games in a row.  So I thought ‘Oh no, not this again.  We are going to go through a long series’, but then that shot by Paul was huge in game three and then I felt like we would win last night.”

On it being good to see that Ray Allen played well against the Heat:

“Yeah you know Ray has had some great series.  The year that we won the championship, Ray was unbelievable in the Lakers series.  (Host: Well it took  him awhile to get going.)  Well so much of it in basketball is, I guess it is more like football, if they choose to double Randy Moss somebody else has to make the play.  I think that Ray is a guy, because of the way that we run our offense and the personnel that we have on our offense, I think that sometimes he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves because teams can take him out of the game easier because of our personnel.  It is easier to take Ray out than it is Paul.  It is easier to take Ray out than KG just because of the way that we play.  So I think that Ray sometimes gets victimized by the fact that we have a non-shooting point guard and not great scoring out of our center position.  So teams take advantage of that.”

On the play of Rasheed Wallace and whether he is seeing him take his game to the next level during the playoffs:

“I think that you hit the nail on the head there.  I think that so far he hasn’t had much opportunity.  Rasheed’s minuets are way down right now and because of the series that we just had, they didn’t have bigs that we needed to guard and we really didn’t need to spread the floor.  I think that Rasheed’s presence well, we need Rasheed in this next series.  They have a lot of big bodies.  We need the outside shooting.  We need some low post presence so I think that Rasheed will be seen and used more in this series.”

On how different the Cavaliers are to play in that they can play at two different speeds:

“Well you know there is a lot to be said about Cleveland and how much progress that they have made over the last couple of years.  They have added this player and that player and you know they have good players.  There is no question about it…  LeBron has got a better supporting cast than Dwyane Wade has, but the biggest difference why Cleveland is better is because LeBron is better, in my opinion.  LeBron is a better player today than he was two years ago, significantly in my opinion.  I mean with his outside shooting.  His shooting is so much better.  That is the only reason that we beat them two years ago is that LeBron didn’t have great shooting games.”

What concerns him most about Cleveland:

“Well LeBron.  Because if you could guard LeBron with one player, I am confident that we could shut down the rest of the players.  If you could guard LeBron with one player and stop the penetration, I am confident that we could rebound the ball.  But unfortunately, like we learned in the Dwyane Wade series, great players take more than one player to guard them and so that opens up the three point line and that opens up the offensive rebounds.  So there is no one player that scares me.  I respect the Delonte West, the Mo Willaims, Jamison, Shaq.  I mean I respect everyone one of those guys but ultimately the difference is LeBron James.”

Danny Ainge on WEEI in Boston on the Big Show

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