Ainge discussed Pierce playing through a neck injury, the increased confidence and aggressiveness of Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, and the way that people are so quick to dismiss Rondo’s value to the team.
On Pierce’s injury
“Paul’s been playing with the sore neck. When we went into the really bad stretch after winning six in a row and then we went through the bad stretch, I think a lot of it was Paul. I saw Paul every day during that stretch just really in pain. … And as we started winning, I don’t think it was a coincidence that Paul started feeling a lot better. So I think that those are two guys and then I think Jason Terry, also.”
On how the team has played differently without Rajon Rondo: “…Sometimes it’s the fact that the players defer to the other great players. Sometimes they don’t practice it because it’s just so easy to get the ball to Rondo to bring up all the time instead of Avery grabbing the defensive rebound and pushing the ball up the court himself, and Rondo running on the other wing and the ball being swung to Rondo and now he’s coming off the pick-and-roll. And so, I think that we’re all learning from this. We’re all learning that the respect of the other players is growing and they get the respect that they now deserve, as opposed to being the guys that aren’t living up to their potential.
“It’s just amazing that two months ago it was Jeff Green and Courtney Lee and Jason Terry that weren’t playing well enough. And now all of a sudden we’re 13-4 and those guys are playing great. And I think that Rondo was, like, voted a starter on the All-Star team and now it’s like we’re better without him. I mean, this stuff is crazy, how the trends go. I think there’s a tiny bit of truth in all of it, like Rondo can adjust his game to allow other players to play a little better, move better without the ball, play more, cut harder, and shoot more, shoot his mid-range jump shot more. I think all those things, and turn the ball over less. But I think that we have a much better chance of beating Miami in a playoff series with Rajon Rondo.”
The whole conversation from WEEI’s The Big Show with Michael Holley:
Interview with Doc Rivers on ESPN Radio’s SVP and Russillo.