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Danny Ainge is punting - sort of


Danny Ainge is not known for taking a step or two back, or punting, when there is a chance to make a major score. But that is exactly what he is doing in this first-half of a tumultuous 2020-21 season.

We know all the negatives of the season, and particularly last night's 120-115 OT loss to the Pelicans. Taking weaker teams likely. Not holding on to big leads - as in "24-point-lead" vs. New Orleans. Not having what Ainge terms "urgency" to win every game. 

But putting the young guys into tight situations this early in the season is exactly what Danny and Brad Stevens need to do. We saw it last night when both rookie Aaron Nesmith and Rob Williams saw meaningful minutes late in the fourth quarter and in the overtime period.

Nesmith was on the floor for 27 minutes, scoring 10 points on 3-of-4 from the field, 1-of-2 on treys and 3-of-3 from the foul stripe. Williams III wowed the announcers with his 21 minutes of play. He notched eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, in addition to 13 rebounds (6 offensive), three assists and four blocks. Jaylen Brown had this to say after the game:

''We played exceptionally well for a large part of the time,'' Brown said. ''We just got to mature and grow up.''

"We just got to mature and grow up" voices exactly what Danny and Brad are trying to accomplish. Putting the kids to a real test by inserting them into a game at critical junctures is not "punting" - and certainly not "tanking" - but rather a way to determine what moves, if any, need to be made for the near future of the Celtics franchise, and not merely for any given game on any specific date.

Am I the only one taking this positive stance on a team now entrenched in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference. I know about the lack of effort and urgency exhibited by this team, in addition to their taking weaker teams lightly and not having the killer instinct needed for a serious post-season run. But I will accept all of that - for now. 

Let's hope that "maturity" happens soon!



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