Celtics

Danny Ainge addresses Kyrie Irving's apparent jab at Celtics coaches

Danny Ainge addresses Kyrie Irving's apparent jab at Celtics coaches

Danny Ainge has defended Kyrie Irving's comments in the past, and he did so again Thursday — to a certain extent.

Irving appeared to call out Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics coaching staff Saturday night after a loss to the Hornets, suggesting his team should have trapped Kemba Walker instead of allowing the Charlotte star to "torch" the C's.

Ainge was asked about Irving's comments Thursday during his weekly interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich." 

"I did hear (Irving's comments). It's not that uncommon," the Celtics' president of basketball operations said. "Guys get frustrated, and maybe that was the first thing that came to his mind is, 'We should have done something different with Kemba.' "

But Ainge also stuck up for Stevens' game plan, as Irving and his teammates didn't exactly hold up their end of the bargain as Walker went off for a game-high 36 points.

"Kemba hit three (3-pointers) in transition. We didn't do a good job of stopping them in transition," Ainge said. "We had defended Kemba pretty well this year after the first game of the season and up through that game, so for two and a half games, we had done a good job with the defensive plan that we had."

Ainge conceded Walker took advantage of favorable matchups off switches in the fourth quarter that could have been prevented. He also reminded everyone that defense wasn't the primary issue in Boston's collapse.

"The bottom line is, we scored five points in the final eight minutes and 20 seconds," Ainge said. "That's not like our team at all. If we score 10 points (in that span), we win that game."

The good news: Boston moved on with a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night and face a big test Friday at home against the Indiana Pacers. So, Ainge is ready to let bygones be bygones.

"I don't think (Irving's comments have) anything to do with anything other than a player's frustration," Ainge said.

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Celtics sign head coach Brad Stevens to contract extension

Celtics sign head coach Brad Stevens to contract extension

Brad Stevens isn't going anywhere.

The Boston Celtics announced Wednesday they have signed their head coach to a contract extension. The terms of the deal were not announced.

Stevens, 43, is in his seventh season as head coach of the Celtics. He was hired by Boston in 2013 after a very successful run with the Butler University men's basketball team.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Wizards, which begins Thursday at 11 a.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at noon. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

“Brad is one of the most intelligent and hard-working coaches in the game today,” Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said in a team press release. “More importantly, his character and integrity have contributed to a culture that we all highly value here. Brad is a great teammate, and a leader people want to follow. We are honored to have him with us as we continue to pursue our next championship.”

Stevens' 318 wins are the fourth-most in Celtics history, trailing only Doc Rivers (416), Tommy Heinsohn (427) and Red Auerbach (795). 

The Celtics have reached the playoffs in each of the last six seasons, including the current 2019-20 campaign. 

Brad Wanamaker enjoying 'the journey' as key reserve in Celtics' playoff run

Brad Wanamaker enjoying 'the journey' as key reserve in Celtics' playoff run

Prior to heading into the NBA’s restart bubble, Boston’s Brad Wanamaker had a plan.

“Stay consistent. Try to stay in the rotation,” Wanamaker told NBC Sports Boston. “Just enjoy the journey. It’s been great so far.”

Especially for Wanamaker, who has been a steady presence off the Celtics bench in their seven seeding games in Orlando. 

And with an eighth and final tuneup before the playoffs start, Wanamaker has achieved most of his goals this season with the playoffs around the corner. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Wizards, which begins Thursday at 11 a.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at noon. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

But what Wanamaker has done in the seven games in the bubble goes beyond keeping the playmaking seat warm for the likes of Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart. He’s heating things up with his play that ranks among the best players under the bubble. 

Wanamaker’s return was a bit unexpected considering he played sparingly last season and the Celtics already had a roster of playmaking versatility.

He has a net rating of +23.9, which is second only to current Los Angeles Clipper and former Celtic Marcus Morris Sr. (+24.0) among players to appear in at least five games in the bubble. Wanamaker’s net rating stands head and shoulders above any other Celtics player, with the next in line being Jayson Tatum at +14.0.

His play has been somewhat surprising, serving as a clear push-back on the notion that Boston has a weak bench. 

Other than Marcus Smart, Boston’s backups haven’t gotten much love this season. But in the bubble, a number of them have made the most of opportunities to play a more steady role, with Wanamaker near the top of that list. 

Alongside Smart, Wanamaker gives Boston a gritty defensive tandem that has made its mark. The duo has played in all seven bubble games for Boston, and has a net rating of 33.3 which ranks second on the team's two-man units to Wanamaker and Gordon Hayward (35.0) among tandems to play together in each of their seven games. 

While Wanamaker’s numbers paired with others are indeed impressive, his individual scoring (11.5 points on 65.2 percent shooting from the field) during Boston’s four-game winning streak has been among the keys to the team’s run of success lately. And while his play has been steady of late, his presence behind the scenes has been a constant all season. 

“A lot of guys look up to him,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said earlier this season. “He’s kind of been a quiet leader for us.”

Celtics Talk Podcast: Banner 18 in the bubble? Celtics' title chances getting stronger as postseason nears | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The 31-year-old Wanamaker has been a voice in the ears of the team’s younger players, some of whom Wanamaker has found himself having to compete against for minutes. 

Like so many of them, he knows all too well what it feels like to sit on the bench and not play, unsure when — if at all — your number is going to be called. 

“Your mental can be really (expletive) up if you’re not playing like you want to play or you come into a situation and look for it to go a certain way and it doesn’t,” he said. “I’m constantly checking in on those guys. We have a very talented group of guys. You see it in the summer, preseason and some games … just try to stay in their ear so that when their time comes, they’re ready.”

Words he not only preaches, but also lives by with his play.