Boston Celtics: Jeff Green
LOS ANGELES -- Rapid reaction after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics 101-92 on Friday night at Staples Center:
THE nitty-gritty: MarShon Brooks exacted revenge on his former team by scoring 10 fourth-quarter points as the Lakers rallied from a 13-point deficit over the final 15 minutes. Brooks, playing his first game for Los Angeles, scored 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 23 minutes. Kent Bazemore, also acquired from the Golden State Warriors in a swap for Steve Blake, added 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Brandon Bass scored 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting with eight rebounds, while Jared Sullinger had a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds). Jeff Green scored 11 of his team-high 21 points in the first quarter.
Turning point: The Celtics were up 11 entering the final frame, but it was Brooks (honestly) who spearheaded the Lakers' comeback. After scoring the final basket of the third quarter, he registered four field goals in the first 3½ minutes of the fourth as the Lakers surged ahead. It was Bazemore who hit a 3-pointer to put the Lakers up seven with little more than four minutes to go and left Boston scrambling for a timeout. Boston never got closer than five the rest of the way.
Loose balls: The Celtics were outscored 38-18 in the fourth quarter. The Celtics shot 39.2 percent overall (38-of-97), while the Lakers shot 48.2 percent (40-of-83). Boston missed 18 of 22 3-pointers it put up (18.2 percent). A quiet night for Rajon Rondo: six points, 11 assists, six rebounds over 34:16. Joel Anthony was a healthy DNP for Boston.
What it means: The Celtics (19-37) lost their third straight and flip-flopped spots in the league standings with the Lakers (19-36). Boston now owns the NBA's fifth-worst winning percentage (.339). The Celtics will visit the Sacramento Kings, the team with the fourth-worst winning percentage (.333), on Saturday on the second night of a back-to-back. Boston's four-game trip wraps up on Monday in Utah.
Green scored 11 fourth-quarter points to help the Celtics race away and it was in that stretch that he provided maybe the most encouraging individual sign by consistently knocking down a mid-range jumper that's been no friend of his this season.
We know Green can score going at the basket. He's excellent in the corner, shooting nearly 40 percent from that spot beyond the arc this season. But the Celtics and coach Brad Stevens have put a heavy emphasis recently on getting Green shots in the mid-range, both on catch-and-shoot opportunities coming off screens and in the pick-and-roll.
Struggling with his shot a bit early on Monday night, Green drew the ire of Stevens when he passed up an open look off a screen late in the first half. Stevens implored Green and his teammates to take those open looks in the second half and it's a big reason why Boston raced away in the final frame.
The usual disclaimers apply to Monday's game: The Bucks were playing without much of their primary talent and own just nine wins this season (two of which came at the expense of Boston). You can nitpick that, despite his excellent offensive night, the 6-foot-9 Green managed to grab just one rebound in 44 minutes, when 5-foot-11 Phil Pressey doubled that total.
But let's focus on the good here, not the bad. Green realized early on that his 3-point shot wasn't falling and got himself going by being aggressive going to the basket. As Celtics fans know all too well, Green has a propensity to stop attacking the basket, but his consistency in the mid-range ensured he was an offensive factor the entire game against Milwaukee.
Maybe the most encouraging sequence came early in the fourth quarter. Boston owned a two-point lead entering the frame and got a defensive stop out of the gates. Green then took a little handoff from rookie Kelly Olynyk at the top of the circle and used the rookie as a screen for a 17-foot jumper.
Green registered a steal at the other end of the floor and, when he couldn't find an outlet pass, dribbled the ball up the court himself. Sensing he had rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo on his heels, Green pulled up for an 18-foot jumper from the right side that forced Milwaukee to call timeout.
Green's a different player when he's confident in his shot and he made some big ones in the fourth frame, including a 3-pointer off a pretty dish from Jerryd Bayless, a tough baseline fadeaway and a strong right-handed drive when he caught a mismatch.
There will be those who joke that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge should have been working the phones after Monday's game. Green is seemingly only increasing his potential trade value with offensive outbursts like this and, if the Celtics believe he's reached his ceiling, then it might be in their best interest to explore what a contender might be willing to give up for him.
But it's nights like Monday that also leave you wondering if there is more to Green. This is the sort of output many expected when the Celtics were without Rajon Rondo at the start of the season and Green was forced to be the focal point. Two of Green's biggest outings recently have come in games that Rondo sat out on the second night of back-to-backs.
Which, of course, makes you wonder just how much Green could thrive when the Celtics do have a rust-removed Rondo, a healthy Avery Bradley and an emerging Jared Sullinger. Could Green finally meet the pundits' lofty expectations when some of the spotlight is off of him?
The only discouraging aspect of his recent emergence is that, over the last 10 games, Boston still owns an offensive rating of just 96.8 when Green is on the floor. That number does spike to 102.4 in Boston's five wins in that span, but it's at 89.9 in the losses, speaking to the inconsistencies that fans lament with Green.
What's undeniable is that, rebounding aside, Green is having an excellent February. We're seeing progress that wasn't always on display earlier this season. The questions are can he keep it up as the competition gets better and, if offers for his services trickle in, is Boston committed to keeping him around to find out?
On a feel-good day in which the Celtics shot 50 percent as a team for the first time since early December and emerged with a rare win, Green finished 2-of-13 shooting with eight points, the only starter not to score in double figures.
Here's the concern: Rajon Rondo is back after a yearlong absence and starting to look like his old self as he shakes off some rust; Avery Bradley has shown tremendous strides in his offensive game while being one of Boston's most consistent two-way players; and Jared Sullinger is blossoming in his second season, even while playing out of position as an undersized center.
Green? He failed to distinguish himself when anointed the focal point of the offense without Rondo at the start of the season, has shown mere glimpses of his obvious potential (31 points vs. Cleveland in November; 39 points vs. Washington last month), and simply has failed to display the sort of advancement one would expect from a 27-year-old with his talents on a rebuilding team.
For his part, coach Brad Stevens refuses to lament what Green has failed to do. Instead, he's put Green's failures on himself and his coaching staff while pledging to put Green in better position to succeed moving forward.
"All of us have had our games where we didn't do our jobs as well as we would have liked to," Stevens said. "To put that on him is not fair to him. I support him. I think he's going to play really well throughout the rest of this year. … My focus isn't necessarily on how he's done so far, but more on how can I help him to be the best he can be every day."
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While Green is likely being shopped, the remaining two years on his contract paying $18.36 million could be problematic. Green is having a good season for the Celtics, however he has not lived up to his contract or expectations as a leader. The Celtics will likely need to include one of their many future first round picks for some team to take Green.
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"Green has been exactly who he has been over the first six years of his NBA career, which is sort of the problem. Thrust into the spotlight with Rajon Rondo rehabbing and Boston's veterans departed, Green was supposed to flourish as the focal point of the offense. Instead, his per-36-minute numbers remain in line with his career averages, his scoring up a bit (17.1 points per game), but his field goal percentage down (42.9 percent). His defense has been better, but the Celtics are still waiting for Green to be the sort of offensive player they can lean on every night."
Making Green's effort all the more impressive was the fact that Boston as a team shot just three free throws in the first half (only one by Green) and the sixth-year forward got to the stripe 14 times after intermission.
Green finished with a team-high 22 points despite 4-of-11 shooting and made 13 of his 15 freebies. Alas, he missed one free throw that really hurt while trying to cap a three-point play after a layup off a beautiful inbounds feed from Gerald Wallace with 33 seconds to go. Instead, Orlando scrambled to corral the loose ball on the floor and called a timeout to retain possession in a tie game. At the other end, Tobias Harris drew a loose-ball foul on Kris Humphries and hit the two free throws that decided the game.
Green had the ball in his hands during Boston's final possession, but hesitated on a potential 3-point look then drew a crowd when he tried to drive. The Celtics never got off a final shot as the Magic escaped with the win.
A Celtics team that lost for the 14th time in 16 games routinely has been forced to look for silver linings during this stretch. They won't find many in this effort, a game in which Boston shot 36.7 percent and kicked away an 11-point first-half lead. Humphries had another energy-filled performance, rookie Kelly Olynyk seems to be making strides in his last couple of outings and Rajon Rondo had a decent night in his second game back from ACL surgery (six points, six rebounds, four assists, a steal, three turnovers over 21:20).
But what the Celtics should try to extract from this loss is Green's aggression. On a night where he was 1-for-7 outside of the paint, Green found success going hard to the basket and earning his way to the charity stripe. Green has the power and athleticism to get near the rim and, while shots might not always drop, he can create points through contact.
According to Synergy Sports data, Green leads the team by drawing shooting fouls on 12.3 percent of his total possessions. What's more, 13.9 percent of Green's possessions end with him at the free throw line (second best on the team behind only Brandon Bass at 14.2 percent).
Green easily leads the Celtics with 25 and-1s this season, nearly a third of the team's total (78). He's drawn a team-high 124 fouls, accounting for 22 percent of the team's total foul drawn. The next closest on the squad is Bass at 79 fouls drawn.
Sixteen times during his Boston tenure, Green has registered 8 or more free throw attempts in a game. In those games, he's averaged 20.9 points per contest. It's not hard to see the correlation between Green generating easy points at the line and more consistent output. Sunday's loss is exactly the sort of game that ought to remind Green of how important it is to have him consistently attacking the basket and the good things that tend to come out of it.
Green wasn't nearly aggressive enough on the glass (only three rebounds over 35 minutes), but he didn't turn the ball over and drew seven second-half fouls while attacking the basket. The Celtics didn't get the win, but Green's effort is something they can build off moving forward.
Green finished with just four points on 2-of-10 shooting with six rebounds and four turnovers over 27:43 during Monday's 104-92 loss to the Rockets, Boston's ninth consecutive defeat. Asked about sitting out the entire fourth quarter as Boston attempted to rally, Green said, "It wasn’t because I was playing bad, it was because I sprained my shoulder at the end of the first [quarter], then it just kept nagging me throughout the game. Maybe that’s the reason, I don’t know."
In eight games this month, Green is averaging 15.3 points but shooting just 41.5 percent from the field (including 31.1 percent beyond the 3-point arc). His rebounding is up (6 rebounds per game), but his assists are down and turnovers are up and he's minus-75 in plus/minus for the month. What's more, Boston's offensive rating is 7.2 points better when Green is off the floor during this eight-game span.
Asked about Green's lackluster outing after Monday's game, Stevens said, "I don’t want to make excuses for him, and at the same time I don’t want to assume anything, but he just didn’t have it. And that’s OK. That’s why other guys are on the team -- to step up and to fill that void when that happens. I thought some other guys did a good job, but clearly he wants to play better than that."
A few more notes from Boston's afternoon session at the team's training facility:
- SULLINGER'S STIFF NECK IS 'OK': Stevens had a similar response when asked about Jared Sullinger's neck, which the second-year big man said spasmed a bit on the Boston bench during Monday's loss. "Full-go today, didn’t mention anything to me about it and didn’t mention anything about sitting out," said Stevens. "Obviously, I get the feedback from our trainers every morning about whether or not guys are available to practice, and both were available." Sullinger, who sported kinesio tape over the neck after Monday's game, said he was OK after Monday's session. "It’s OK, just a little banged up," he said. "Battling down there with the big boys kind of does that to you. It’s stiff, but at the same time, I can look left and right, and can drive in my car, so I’m OK."
- PERSONAL DAY FOR BOGANS: The Celtics had 13 of their 14 players on the court for Tuesday's session, but veteran wing Keith Bogans was excused for personal reasons. Stevens didn't expound much, noting, "He was not here today, we gave him the day off." Bogans has been a healthy DNP in 18 of his last 20 games, seeing time recently only in the immediate aftermath of the Jerryd Bayless-for-Courtney Lee swap.
- REBOUND COMPETITION WITH SULLY + HUMP: Jared Sullinger noted that he and Kris Humphries, the two primary rebounders on the Celtics, have a friendly competition with each other about who's grabbing more boards, particularly now that the two are sharing the floor in the latest starting lineup combination. "I love playing with all the bigs, just because we’re so unselfish," said Sullinger. "[Brandon] Bass is so unselfish on defense, and Hump is the same way. It’s just fun competing out there, especially with me and Hump. Rebounding, we always compete who can get the most rebounds in a game, or who gets the most rebounds while we were on the floor. That’s the beauty of having two rebounders on the court." Is anyone keeping stats on how that competition is going? "No, we don’t go that far. It’s more like a gentleman's bet. We like to fight for the rebounds."
Green sat out the entire fourth quarter of Boston's ninth consecutive loss and revealed after the game that he sprained a shoulder (he wouldn't say which) in the first quarter, limiting his effectiveness the rest of the way. Green finished with four points on 2-of-10 shooting with six rebounds and four turnovers over 27:43. He was minus-12 in plus/minus.
Green, who has been held out of the fourth quarter of past games, was asked about being on the pine again Monday.
"It wasn’t because I was playing bad, it was because I sprained my shoulder at the end of the first, then it just kept nagging me throughout the game," Green said. "Maybe that’s the reason, I don’t know. The [group] that was in, they did a great job of fighting and getting back into the game."
A reserve unit led by newly acquired Jerryd Bayless rallied the Celtics, down 19 entering the final quarter, to within seven in the final minutes, but Houston kept Boston at arm's length.
Asked how the shoulder felt after the game, Green answered, "Still attached." Pressed on if he'd be able to play in Wednesday's visit from the Toronto Raptors, Green said, "That’s the plan."
Is Green upset he's been held out in the fourth quarter of games this season?
"I understand tonight, I couldn’t give anything because of the shoulder," he said. "At any other given time, I do want to be out there."
Sullinger, back in the starting lineup after a three-game stint as a reserve, finished with eight points on 3-of-11 shooting with a team-high 10 rebounds over 22:35. He sported some visible black kinesio tape on his neck after the game, prompting questions about an injury.
"I don’t know [what happened], [the neck] just got real tight while I sat on the bench, spasmed up a little bit," Sullinger said. "I’m going to be all right."
Sullinger has battled a deep bone bruise in his left hand that contributed to a recent shooting slump. He had busted out of that a bit the previous two games, but said his focus remains on simply getting the Celtics back in the win column.
"When you’re a competitor, you always find a way to stay positive," Sullinger said. "You always find a way to try to win. We’re fighting every day."
Broadcast video appears to show teammates and assistant coach Jay Larranaga trying to defuse the dust-up. Asked after the game about a potential squabble, first-year Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, "Disagreements are part of the game, it’s part of team basketball. But how quickly you move on from there says a lot."
What had both players worked up? It was likely the struggles of Boston's first unit. The starters were minus-7 in plus/minus over 10 minutes together in the first half, allowing the Hawks to chip away at an 18-point advantage that the second unit helped build. When that lead further dissolved at the start of the second half, Stevens pulled his underperforming starters in favor of the second-unit frontcourt featuring Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Kelly Olynyk.
How bad was Boston's first unit? In 17 minutes of total floor time, Boston's starting five (Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford, Green, Bass and Jared Sullinger) combined for 5-of-27 shooting (18.5 percent) with only three assists and 18 total points. The group was minus-13 overall. The second unit of Phil Pressey, Courtney Lee, Wallace, Humphries and Olynyk was 13-of-20 shooting (65 percent) with 12 assists and 35 points over 13 minutes. That group was plus-15.
Did the sideline tiff prevent Green or Bass from reentering the game? Stevens suggested that he was set to ride the reserves the rest of the way. He leaned on a full reserve unit straight up until 4 ½ minutes to go when Bradley and Crawford checked back in.
This isn't the first time that Stevens has used his reserves for extended stretches late in games. Back in early November, Green sat out the final 15 minutes of a loss in Detroit. Stevens hasn't been afraid to ride hot hands (and send a message in the process). He's often reminded his starters that, if they don't bring their A games, there's a set of reserves eager for their floor time.
The guess here is that any frustrations between players will blow over quickly. The underperformance of the first unit as a whole and figuring out why it happened is where the players should channel any lingering anger.
With Boston clinging to a three-point lead with little more than a minute to play, Jared Sullinger misfired on a 3-pointer that could have iced the game. Instead, the ball popped up off the rim for what should have been an easy rebound for Atlanta's Paul Millsap (who had position on Brandon Bass).
But Millsap's teammate DeMarre Carroll failed to put a body on Jeff Green and Boston's swingman swooped in from the 3-point line to contest the rebound. Green knocked the ball out of Millsap's hand and towards the Atlanta bench, leaving the two stumbling and bumping into each other on the baseline while trying to corral the loose ball. Both Millsap and Green went to the floor, crashing hard to the ground as the ball ticked off Millsap and -- confirmed by the referees' video review -- remained Boston's ball.
That sequence defined the fourth quarter, one in which the Celtics rallied from a 12-point deficit to post a 94-87 triumph and snap a six-game losing streak.
Green gets a lot of grief for being passive and often looking like he's waiting for the game to come to him. On Saturday night, he made something happen with a little bit of hustle. If Millsap gets the rebound cleanly, the Hawks have a chance to tie the game. Instead, Jordan Crawford made a runner to put Boston up five with 58 seconds to go.
Green had another quiet fourth quarter against the Hawks, going scoreless over 7:33 (missing two shots and committing a turnover). But Green was plus-13 in plus/minus for the frame and aided the rally effort, particularly on the defensive end where the Hawks missed 10 consecutive shots as part of a five-minute scoring drought.
It's the little things that decide these types of games and Green's effort on that team rebound deserves more recognition than the box score provides.
Lee proudly stroked at his chin while noting that this is the thickest his beard has ever been. It's safe to say both players are in the infant stages of their beard growth. And Lee isn't sure he'll get anything close to what the Red Sox players grew during their World Series run.
As for Green, he noted: "I’m more in the Big Papi stages right now. It’s coming along."
Lee said he's trying to recruit others on the team to join the no-shave club -- which would further help raise awareness for cancer and maybe even facilitate some team bonding -- but others have been resistant thus far.
"I’m trying to get some of the other dudes to do it, but they think they’re too cute around here to do it," joked Lee while screaming in the direction of a couple nearby teammates. "But they’re really not. Quote me."
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.
"When you start playing basketball, that's what you want," said Green. "That's what you work hard for: to be called one of the go-to guys. This is what I've dreamed about, this is what I've worked hard for. It's all coming to fruition right now."
A day before the start of the season, coming off an underwhelming preseason, Green calmly acknowledged that he would be under the microscope this season, but he still didn't run from it.
"I have to take on the challenge of being that guy," said Green. "Of course I’ll have my ups and downs, but I’ll have more ups than downs. I can guarantee you that."
With that in mind, we're tracking Green this season to see if he can live up to his word. We'll take a weekly glance at his performance, trying to assign a simple "up" or "down" grade for his efforts (and feel to argue one way or the other). Advanced stats (points per possessions) courtesy of Synergy Sports data.
THE GREEN GAUGE: 2 UP, 2 DOWN (through 4 games)
Game 1 at Toronto
The box score: 25 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST, 37 MIN, 8-16 FG, 2-3 3PT, 7-9 FT
Advanced stats: Offensive: 1.19 PPP (25 points, 21 possessions) Defensive: 0.917 (11,12)
The vote: UP. Green had a phenomenal start to the new season, displaying the exact aggressiveness towards the basket that was missing for much of the preseason. He didn't have a great defensive game, but took on the challenge of guarding some of Toronto's top scorers (DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay).
Game 2 vs. Milwaukee
The box score: 13 PTS, 9 REB, 1 AST, 38 MIN, 4-13 FG, 1-3 3PT, 4-7 FT
Advanced stats: Offensive: 0.650 PPP (13 points, 20 possessions) Defensive: 0.667 (4,6)
The vote: DOWN. Despite an excellent rebounding game, Green lost his aggressiveness on offense. In the second half as Boston kicked away a 22-point lead, Green was 0-for-7 shooting with 2 points and was a minus-20 in plus/minus overall.
Game 3 vs. Detroit
The box score: 7 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST, 20 MIN, 3-5 FG, 1-3 3PT, 1-1 FT
Advanced stats: Offensive: 1 PPP (7 points, 7 possessions) Defensive: 1 (5,5)
The vote: DOWN. Green got glued to the pine over the final 14:21 as coach Brad Stevens watched a mix-and-match lineup twice rally from double-digit deficits to make things interesting.
Game 4 vs. Memphis
The box score: 22 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST, 40 MIN, 6-12 FG, 1-4 3PT, 9-12 FT
Advanced stats: Offensive: 1.16 PPP (22 points, 19 possessions) Defensive: 0.625 (5,8)
The vote: UP. For three quarters, Green was back in attack mode, going right at the hoop in transition and taking advantage of his athleticism. He nearly spoiled it in the fourth quarter, however. He missed the only three shots he took in the frame, all from beyond the arc and two of which came in the final minute.
WEEK 1 PROGRESS REPORT: The roller coaster has begun and we've already seen the highs and lows of Green. In Game 1, he was phenomenal and Stevens need to figure out how to bottle that. Two games later, Stevens stuck him on the bench in crunch time. Teams are clearly going to focus on Green as Rondo rehabs, but he can't be content to drift around the perimeter.
Green didn't just finish 8-of-16 shooting from the floor, he got the foul line for nine attempts (making seven) and rarely got caught waiting for the game to come to him. Thrust into the role of shooting guard in Boston's big lineup -- which often left him covering Toronto's talented tandem of Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan -- Green still found the energy to attack offensively, giving Boston much-needed scoring jolts.
The advanced stats are more encouraging than the standard line. Green accounted for a team-high 21 plays finished, generating 1.19 points per possession, according to Synergy Sports data. He generated points off 57.1 percent of his finished possessions, drew shooting fouls on 23.8 percent of his touches, and limited his turnovers (1) on a night the Celtics as a whole were sloppy with the ball. Green was plus-8 overall in plus/minus.
"I was kind of zoned out," said Green. "Going into the game, I just told myself, put your head down and drive. Be aggressive. And, if I play hard, the offense will come, but I wanted to focus on defense. I was guarding DeMar, he’s a great player. I just wanted to try to be aggressive and put them on their heels."
The NBA doesn't track preseason lineup data in its available stats package, but by our very unscientific count, Green and Wallace shared the floor for a total of 14 minutes, 35 seconds on Sunday, including an 8 ½-minute glimpse to start the second half. The results?
Boston was plus-5 with the Green/Wallace combo on the floor, outscoring the Timberwolves 35-30. The Celtics shot 50 percent (13 of 26 overall) from the floor with 14 rebounds, five assists, three steals, a block and two turnovers (not bad when you consider that means Boston shot 33.3 percent when the duo was not on the floor together). Minnesota shot 42.9 percent (9 of 21 overall) with 11 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, four blocks, and five turnovers.
The Celtics mixed the personnel around the duo, pairing them with Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass, and Jared Sullinger to start the second half. That left Green often attempting to defend smaller guards and Boston was just plus-1 over the first 8:21 of the second half.
Where Boston enjoyed its most success with the combo was as a sub lineup in the first quarter. Green subbed for Bass with 6:21 to play in the frame (while rookie Kelly Olynyk replaced Courtney Lee) leaving the group on the floor with Bradley and Sullinger. The Celtics were down 18-7 at the initial substitution, but went on an 11-2 burst over the first two minutes to briefly make it a one-possession game.
Is the Green/Wallace lineup sustainable? Given that Green is supposed to be Boston's go-to guy and Wallace has been among the league leaders in minutes during his career, the two should naturally overlap on the floor despite playing the same position. We need to see more of the pair together, and with different players around them, to know if and how it can truly thrive.
But it sounds like we'll most definitely see more of the combo.
“I’d have to look at the overall numbers on it, but I thought we were pretty good in that stretch -- both in the first half and [to open] the second half," Stevens told reporters in Montreal. “We played them together some in the first half where we played big on the wings, and we played them some together at the start of the second half. It’s probably a 10- or 12-minute clip of that. And, based on how it went tonight, I would say that you’ll probably see that again."
For a Celtics team with an non-ideal mix of players -- including logjams at the shooting guard and power forward spots -- being creative with their most talented players will be key to being competitive. While Green has slumped for much of the preseason, he's shown more aggression lately and has said in the past that playing with Wallace intrigues him. Wallace, who took the second night of a pair of preseason back-to-backs off, has been one of Boston's most consistent performers when he's on the floor, especially in terms of bringing energy and effort.
For one game at least, it was an encouraging takeaway from an effort thin on positives.
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