December 8, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS - Jim O'Brien admitted it was a bit hard to envision all this Celtics success back when he resigned as their coach in January 2004.
``Yeah, but I think he pictured it,'' O'Brien, the current Pacers coach, said of C's president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. ``Certainly the owners pictured it. That's the reason he was brought in, and he did an outstanding job of creating assets that enabled him to get the players he was able to get. So I have nothing but admiration for the job he's done.'' Ainge has said he made O'Brien aware that a number of personnel changes were going to be made, but after the last deal brought in Ricky Davis, the coach believed he wanted to move on.
``It was very difficult simply because I was so close to the team that had gone to the Eastern Conference (finals),'' O'Brien said of the club that lost the last two games of the 2002 conference finals to New Jersey and was swept by the Nets the following year.
``We in essence went from a team - or a bunch of the guys went from being a dismal team to a team that was two games away from going to the Finals. When those people started to leave, I just felt they were better off having somebody else to help Danny rebuild. And it just worked out perfectly for everybody.''
Tony back in step
Tony Allen was back in uniform last night after missing the previous two games with a sprained right ankle. The club had considered keeping him out until Thursday in Washington, but Allen felt fine and coach Doc Rivers said he was needed. Sam Cassell went back to the inactive list. . . . Rajon Rondo had more than 100 people in the stands supporting him, including a large group from the Little Flock Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.
On a rugged Pace
The game acompleted a four-game run during which the Pacers played the Los Angeles Lakers, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the C's twice. So what do they think after facing the teams with the best records in the NBA? ``It's too early to tell still, but you would probably have to go with the Celtics because they're the reigning champs,'' forward Jeff Foster said. ``They're playing every night with a target on their back, but they've still managed to compile a good record. You can't discount the Lakers or Cleveland, though. ``The Lakers want to get back to the Finals and LeBron (James) seems even more determined.''