The Boston Celtics' plentiful losses have come with plenty of criticism, to the point where Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum had a conversation before Wednesday's game against the New York Knicks about tuning out the outside noise.
Danny Ainge probably wishes things hadn't gotten to that point, but he's fully on board with his two All-Stars addressing their struggles head-on.
"I see two guys that really like each other," the Celtics' president of basketball operations said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" when asked about Brown and Tatum's relationship. "I think that from what I gathered – I didn’t talk to them about this, I just read it – they’re just trying to keep the noise out.
"There’s a lot of people out there who would try to get in between everybody on the team, for that matter. It’s a healthy thing that they got together to talk through some of that stuff, because most of the time I see most of my players on their phones just reading things."
Ainge clarified that seeing his players glued to their phones was less a concern about team chemistry and more a sign of the times. But Celtics players have been called out in the media a few times this season -- most recently by ex-big man Kendrick Perkins, who took Tatum to task over his poor body language after Tuesday's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Ainge didn't seem too worked up about Perkins' comments, however.
"I think Perk is paid to have opinions, and he’s out there and he’s giving a lot of opinions," Ainge said. "I love Perk. I hope those guys aren’t being impacted by things that people are saying that are media heads that are paid to give an opinion. Hopefully they’re just talking it through [and] they don’t pay too much attention to all the noise out there, which one of them said. That’s a good thing."
If Perkins' criticism led to a productive talk between Brown and Tatum about staying the course, then that indeed is a positive development. The duo combined for 57 points in Wednesday's win over the Knicks, so it sounds like their heads were in the right place after their chat.
The C's will need more of that mental fortitude if they want to make a late-season run: They're currently seventh in the Eastern Conference at 26-26 with 20 games remaining.