Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, in an interview on The Big Show, suggested that the notion that the Celtics have looked "too old" at this point in the season has basis. While he noted that it is early in the season, and the team still is working its way into shape (particularly with Paul Pierce still trying to get into shape after missing all of training camp due to injury), Ainge had a dim view of his 4-5 team following what he referred to as a "miserable" performance in Wednesday's loss to the Mavericks.
"I think that’s a fair assessment right now," Ainge said when asked whether the team looks too old. "Nine games into the season, yeah, that would be a fair assessment, but I’m hoping that guys are better than they’re playing and they have something left, but time will tell."
Ainge cited two key areas that required improvement, beyond the conditioning issue that he cited as one that faces Pierce and others on the team.
"I think there’s two things that sort of stand out. I’m not taking a nine-game sample. I’m looking at what has been our pattern, and what has been our weakness, over the last three years with this group of guys," said Ainge. "For three years now, we have been the worst offensive rebounding team in basketball. The second thing is, the execution of our offense, our offensive efficiency in the last five minutes of the game, I think those two things have got to be improved. I don’t necessarily know why that hasn’t happened. It’s not just personnel, because we’ve had a lot of good offensive rebounders on this team.
"I just don’t understand why we’re last. We don’t have to be first," he added. "It’s not based on shooting percentage. When we talk about offensive rebounding, we’re talking about offensive rebound percentage. If we shoot 40-for-80, there’s 40 rebounding opportunities when we miss and we get eight of those, that’s 20 percent. That’s what we’re playing at. It’s not enough. We’ve got to get up to 25 percent, to the middle of the pack."
Asked if he would consider major changes to the roster if the Celtics don't show significant improvement between now and the trading deadline, Ainge acknowledged that he would have to consider the possibility.
"I’m committed to the guys as long as they’re going to perform, but they’ve got to perform," he said. "They’ve got to show they have an opportunity to win. Otherwise, I’ve got to at least make an effort to go another direction."