Ainge backs Celtics stars regardless of ‘main funk’


If you consider groups with a number of All-Stars, you consider dominance — the Jazz, the Lakers, the Nets. The Celtics have two All-Stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, however after Wednesday evening’s blowout loss to the Hawks, Boston is in final place within the Atlantic Division.

Workforce president Danny Ainge is not able to throw his star tandem beneath the bus, nonetheless.

“I want I had solutions for you. I do not,” Ainge mentioned on 98.5 The Sports activities Hub on Thursday. “I do consider in my gamers. I like all of them individually. I feel they’ve good futures. I simply suppose proper now our staff is in a serious funk.”

Funk won’t be a robust sufficient phrase to explain Wednesday’s sport. Coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Mavericks, the Celtics had been down 13 after one quarter and 23 on the half. They allowed essentially the most 3-pointers in staff historical past.

Brown had 17 factors for the Celtics and missed all six of his 3-point makes an attempt. Tatum was held to 13 factors on 4-of-20 taking pictures and was simply 1-of-8 from lengthy vary.

The Celtics have now misplaced three in a row to fall two video games under .500. They’ve dropped eight of 11 video games total and are on the surface trying in on the playoffs.

“Here is what the largest factor about Jaylen and Jayson is,” Ainge mentioned. “They have been shielded earlier than as a result of they’ve had different actually good gamers, veterans round them as they developed — and went to a few out of 4 Japanese Convention [finals].

“Now it is on them. Now they’re the celebs. They usually’ve received the massive contracts. They usually received the All-Star nods. So the microscope is on them.”

Kemba Walker is a type of veteran All-Stars. Coming off a profession 12 months in Charlotte, Boston signed him to a four-year, $141 million deal earlier than final season. He put up stable numbers and took some warmth off Brown and Tatum.

This 12 months, a knee harm has restricted him to 16 video games. His scoring common is his worst in 5 years and he is taking pictures simply 37.5% from the ground. The Celtics held him out of Wednesday’s sport to keep away from a back-to-back, and Boston received throttled.

Like he did final week, Ainge is saying that the problems with the Celtics are on him greater than his younger stars or coach Brad Stevens.

“It is a me downside,” Ainge mentioned. “I am saying that I like my two younger guys, they don’t seem to be excellent, and so they’re studying, and this adversity is a part of their progress and improvement — not deliberately, it is simply the character of the beast.”

However Ainge mentioned he is not attempting to make excuses.

“We’re taking part in terribly,” he mentioned. “We do not have a adequate staff — in my view.”

He added that he is not trying to make a change for change’s sake, “however I’m trying to do one thing that can make a distinction on our staff.”

The Celtics’ first probability to get again on observe comes Friday at dwelling in opposition to a struggling Pacers staff. Then it is the resurgent Wizards on the town Sunday earlier than video games in opposition to the Clippers, Raptors and Nets.

Bradley Beal, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, James Harden, Kyrie Irving — the Celtics will face loads of All-Stars and can shortly discover out if their duo measures up.

“I feel they each maintain themselves accountable,” Ainge mentioned of Brown and Tatum. “You are speaking about two hardworking youngsters which are attempting to get higher. And this can be a very irritating time for them.”