This has been a trying season for the Boston Celtics, which is funny because it’s the lack of trying that’s made it so.

At their most frustrating, the Celtics are a disconnected mess where effort wanes, shoulders sag, and blame gets tossed around like Tom Brady passing his way down the length of a field; it finds everybody.

The negative attention has turned to Coach Brad Stevens lately as fans question his lineups, use of timeouts and ability to motivate his team. It’s not unusual for fans to turn on a coach during a team’s most trying times, but as General Manager Danny Ainge said in his weekly radio appearance, Stevens is the last guy who should catch heat for what’s happening.

“There’s blame to share for everybody,” Ainge said. “But I will say this. He’s the least, by far, of anybody that there is to blame because I know Brad is going to be prepared and I know Brad is putting in the work to do whatever he can to help this team, and fix this team.”

Stevens publicly has fallen on his sword after bad losses, accepting his share of blame for what’s happening. As the team struggles through its post-All-Star schedule, any mistakes he or the players make are magnified as fans reach their boiling point.

“I understand that as troubling as it is for you and as troubling as it is for me,” Ainge said. “I’ve been there as a player, and it’s 10 times more troubling for them.”

“We’re out there playing. Brad and his coaching staff can only do so much for us,” Marcus Smart said.

“We’ve got to pick it up, especially on the road. Playing against the crowd, got to be able to generate our own energy.”

The NBA is a different animal than fans realize. The 82-game schedule is a long grind that bring unique challenges. Stevens has been able to guide less talented teams through that, but is struggling this season to find the same buttons to push on a team with high expectations.

He’s learning lessons along the way, just like some of his players are.

“Brad has an amazing fire burning inside of him and a great motivation,” said Ainge. “He really does. And he has a great temperament and control, and he looks like he’s always under control on the sideline, but he’s as great a competitor as there is.”

Ainge has complete faith in his coach, and said if things continue to go wrong, it won’t be for lack of effort.

“I know Brad is putting in the work to do whatever he can to help this team and fix this team so that (blame) is the very bottom of the rung,” Ainge said.


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