Celtics Notes: Ainge, Tatum, Smart, Hayward

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge doesn’t think head coach Brad Stevens is to blame for the team’s underwhelming play so far this season, telling Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe that he’d assign more responsibility to Boston’s players and to himself.

“We’re not playing with the passion that we need,” Ainge said. “I think that’s on the players. And the players on the team are on me.

“… This is a team that was put together by me,” he continued. “And we’re not playing with enough consistency and urgency, and it’s my job to look to see what we can do to improve the team, but that’s always much harder than improving from within.”

While Ainge stressed that “just changing faces” isn’t necessarily a way to upgrade a roster and improve a team’s outlook, he acknowledged that some roster changes may be necessary. The Celtics will look to avoid falling below .500 when they take a 13-13 record into a home game vs. Denver on Tuesday.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • More than a month after he first tested positive for COVID-19, Jayson Tatum is still feeling the aftereffects of the virus, telling reporters on Tuesday that it “messes with your breathing a little bit,” according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “Just running up and down the court a few times, it’s easier to get out of breath or tired a lot faster,” Tatum said. “I’ve noticed that since I’ve had COVID. It’s just something I’m working on. It’s gotten better since the first game I played, but I still deal with it from time to time.”
  • When Marcus Smart was diagnosed with a calf strain at the end of January, the Celtics announced a projected two- or three-week recovery timeline. However, as Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe writes, it seems likely that Smart, who said on Friday that he’s still walking with a slight limp, will miss more time than that.
  • Having lost 10 of their last 15 games, the Celtics appear to be missing Gordon Hayward and could really use someone to fill the role he played last season, says Jared Weiss of The Athletic.
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