BOSTON – This has been a season in which the Celtics have found success against most of the top teams in the NBA, including defending champion Golden State.
And if they run the tables in their four remaining games, they will be the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs which is no small feat.
Still, as well as they have played, they are not a title contender, according to Danny Ainge.
“I believe the extra-ordinary is possible. But I do not look at our team as a title contender,” Ainge said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show. “But like I always say, it’s important what they think. I hope that they believe differently.”
Ainge would later elaborate on why he doesn’t see this group of Celtics being one of the upper echelon, title-contending teams.
“There’s a big difference between regular season basketball and playoff basketball,” Ainge said. “I get worried that we can be taken out of our game too easily. Even last night against a depleted team, I feel like we’re taken out of our game too often.”
In Boston’s 104-97 win against New Orleans Wednesday night, the Celtics faced a Pelicans team that has been ravaged by injuries to where their starting five was made up of end-of-the-bench NBA players who would barely make the active roster of most NBA teams let alone start or play a significant role.
And there they were, tied at 93 with a little more than two minutes to play after the Celtics squandered multiple double-digit leads before getting two big baskets from Avery Bradley and a huge block by Amir Johnson in the final minute to secure the victory.
“We go through these offensive droughts,” Ainge added. “We haven’t made enough shots consistently. We rely on grit and hustle and defense and I just think that we need guys to make more shots.”
The Celtics (46-32) are tied for third in the East with the Atlanta Hawks with three of their four remaining games at the TD Garden.