Sunday, November 10, 2013
Jeff Green: Mr. Clutch?
By Chris Forsberg
After Jeff Green's 3-pointer over LeBron James lifted Boston to a thrilling 111-110 triumph over the Heat on Saturday night in Miami, ESPN Stats and Info highlighted Green's success in end-of-game situations:
The Celtics went to Miami and upset the Heat on a Jeff Green buzzer-beater.
That’s not normal -– at least with LeBron James in the lineup.
The Heat had won 24 consecutive regular-season home games with James in the lineup entering Saturday. They hadn’t lost a home game with him since Jan. 4.
The Celtics somehow overcame 58 percent shooting by the Heat, making 10 3-pointers to notch their third straight win after starting 0-4. Perhaps first-year head coach Brad Stevens is already figuring this NBA thing out.
Green’s game-winner was his seventh career game-tying or go-ahead field goal in the final 5 seconds of a game. His 64 percent shooting on those shots (7-for-11) is the highest percentage for any player with at least 10 attempts since he entered the league in 2007-08.
Green now has three memorable game-winners over top competition over the last few months of regular-season play (dating back to the 2012-13 campaign). Green hit winners in Indiana and Cleveland (in front of his heart surgeon, no less) in March of last season, and picked up where he left off this year in Miami.
The idea of Green being the most clutch player in the league in recent seasons is kinda staggering, especially to Celtics fans. This is a player that went nearly five games without a fourth-quarter bucket this season (a stretch of 35 minutes of game play, and all of those games were close).
But Green clearly has an ability to step up in big moments. The key for coach Brad Stevens is getting him to be assertive enough to seek out those opportunities even when it's not a final shot. Celtics observers are tough on Green because he has all the tools -- including the intangibles -- to be a dominant player. The late-game stats confirm it.
It was a monster game against Miami last March that sort of lit the fuse on Green's end-of-the-season emergence. You can't help but wonder if this will have the same sort of impact as Green seeks to be the focal point of a young Boston offense while Rajon Rondo is rehabbing.