Making his weekly appearance on The Big Show, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said that the Celtics, who currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 14-13 record, "have a tendency to play down to their level of competition," and that he has questioned the team's resolve in the past before seeing them elevate their level of play in the postseason.
Asked about coach Doc Rivers calling out the team's toughness at points this season, Ainge didn't hold back in saying that the Celtics tend to underachieve during the regular season.
"I think it's just focus. I don't know if it's toughness, although I guess it is mental toughness. We do know that this team has the ability to play at a very high level," Ainge said. "They've shown that, and this isn't just happening this year. Last year we started out 13-17, and I didn't think that we had any resolve at that time, and then I thought we had as much resolve as any team I've ever been around the second half of the season, and the same thing the year before when we went all the way to the NBA finals Game 7 against the Lakers. I thought our team in the regular season, we finished 27-27, I felt like we just didn't have that fight, what Doc might refer to as toughness, but then I thought that we played the best basketball of this six-year era since we've had KG. I thought that was the best basketball we've ever played, even to this day, was in the Orlando and Cleveland series.
"I know these players have it within them. I will never doubt that, because they've shown time and time [again] what they're capable of, but they also have a tendency to play down to their level of competition and to pace themselves, for lack of a better term, throughout the course of the regular season."