Interviews with Danny Ainge usually include a healthy combination of language couched in qualification and open-ended superlatives.
An example of the former:
What are the chances of the Celtics winning it all this year?
It depends. We’ve played well when it matters. We’ve risen to the occasion, and relied on our energy and defense to ice games against the elite teams. But in a series where you play the same team 7 times in a row, all that changes.
An example of the latter:
How pleased have you been with roster players 4-12
They’ve all been fantastic, including Brian Scalabrine, who’s not even on the active roster right now. He filled in for KG, and averaged 21 minutes per game. More importantly, our defense improved over those nine games. But everyone has played a big role in winning games this year, from Tony Allen and Eddie House, to Big Baby and Leon Powe, to Sam Cassell and James Posey. And Rondo and Perk have really stepped it up this year.
But then came an answer that surprised me.
How do you rank this year’s defense?
“I think it’s the best defense in our era.”
Splashing around feel-good words like “fantastic,” “big,” and “stepped-up” is one thing.
It’s an entirely different thing to make a point-blank judgment like he did about our defense. I had to play it back twice just to make sure I heard what I thought I heard.
I love our defense, and, if we win the title, the defense will be largely responsible.
But I’m just not so sure it’s the best defense in the last 10-15 years.
I’d need to see some numbers (and I don't think anyone would accuse me of going light on the kool-aid).
Regardless, it just caught me by surprise that Danny snuck in a definitive judgment where he might normally have been inclined to interject a qualifier or two.