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Ainge: Celtics' Guards Are 'Heart And Soul Of Our Team'

BOSTON (CBS) -- The Celtics are hot right now, winners of 14 straight on their home court and holding firm as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Fresh off the heels of a win over the Memphis Grizzlies, team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined Toucher & Rich.

Considering he shares an affinity with Ainge over a much-maligned burrito chain, Rich had to ask if the most recent closure of a Chipotle has inhibited Ainge from dining at his favorite spot.

Ainge's answer: No way.

"No. I'm out here in Las Vegas right now at four different conference tournaments and it's my favorite place still," Ainge said. "It's going well here in Vegas at Chipotle."

With that out of the way, the guys asked Ainge if there was any disappointment over last weekend's loss in Cleveland, even despite the Celtics' recent run of great success.

Ainge did not seem dispirited by that one loss.

"Well, first of all the Cavs played great. You gotta give them credit. They're very talented and I thought in the second and third quarters they played on all cylinders. It's why they're the best team in the East," Ainge said. "We just had a tough time making shots. Their defense and their offense was just overwhelming."

RECAP: Celtics Beat Grizzlies For 14th Straight Home Victory

As for the remarkable stretch that Isaiah Thomas is in the midst of, Ainge was asked if the local criticism about IT not being a cornerstone player for an NBA team has pushed him to another level. Ainge said that Thomas' success is more a function of how well he fits in with his teammates than anything like that.

"I think that Isaiah has certainly improved in a lot of ways and I think that we've done a good job of utilizing him," Ainge said, noting that Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder help Thomas preserve a lot of energy on the defensive end of the floor. "Those guards are a really good fit with one another, and they're the heart and soul of our team. I don't think any one player you can build around. I think that term is thrown around all the time and used, but we need everybody to play well."

Ainge was also asked about Marcus Smart's tendency to let the refs get inside his head, an issue which manifested itself in the form of an obscene gesture directed at an official which earned Smart a $15,000 fine this week.

"Yeah, I worry a little bit about that. But I'd rather have it that way than the other way," Ainge said. "Marcus is a very passionate and emotional player, and he's also very young. It's something that we've talked a lot about and he's working toward and he's getting better, but there's a maturing process for sure."

And of course, there was the weekly update on Kelly Olynyk.

"Kelly just isn't feeling right. He did practice and he wasn't able to make it all the way through everything. We're just being extra-cautious with him," Ainge said. "Everybody else is healthy right now, we've got plenty of bodies, and there's no reason to rush Kelly back until he's ready. It's not 100 percent, but he's getting close."

And with the Celtics' being owners of the Nets' first-round pick and thus being keenly interested in the top of the draft, the guys asked Ainge whether opinions change throughout the course of a season on who may end up being the top picks in any given year's draft.

"They change a little bit, like maybe there's a clear one, two, three in your mind, and maybe it gets a little more cloudy," Ainge said. "But even after the college season, not every year it's like that, but this year I think it's a little bit cloudy at the top of the draft in my mind.

Ainge also discussed Jared Sullinger's steady improvement, and whether the one-and-done system in NCAA basketball can be improved. Listen below:

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