Green, Durant remain close friends

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Green, Durant remain close friends

BOSTON -- When Kendrick Perkins was traded by the Boston Celtics to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Jeff Green, his close friendship with Rajon Rondo became one of the major headlines following the deal. Their bond wasn't the only one impacted by the move, though.

Green shared a friendship just as strong with Kevin Durant, one that dated far beyond their days as teammates in the NBA. Like Perkins and Rondo, they have not let their professional separation change their relationship two years later.

Green first met Durant through mutual friends as teenagers in Maryland. They became friends quickly, sharing similar laidback personalities and the same fire to play pro ball.

"We're basically the same kind of person -- very humble, very respectful, good guys, and guys that just like to have fun," Green told CSNNE.com. "We don't stress over too much, we just like to chill, I think that's why we clicked so easily."

Green went off to college first at Georgetown University in 2004. Two years later, Durant headed to the University of Texas. Both entered the 2007 NBA Draft, wherein the Seattle SuperSonics selected Durant with the second overall pick. The Celtics drafted Green with the fifth pick and traded him to the Sonics in the Ray Allen deal. By the end of the night on June 28, Durant and Green were teammates.

"We were closer than friends," said Durant. "We did everything together."

The duo played their rookie seasons in Seattle and went through the transition together when the team re-located to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. They went through their ups and downs as they became acclimated to life in the NBA, spending time with one another both at home and on the road.

Green and Durant were together waiting for the team bus in San Antonio on February 24, 2011 when Green received the news he had been traded to the Celtics. The young friends were quickly reminded basketball is a business.

"I wouldn't say we cried, but it was sad because we came in together, everything we'd been through together, and us being from the same area, it was tough for us," said Green. "But it's the NBA. It's not like we can't see other in the summer or work out together."

Echoed Durant, "It was tough for us, but in this league anything can happen, so we've moved past it."

Months after the trade, Green was faced with another change in his basketball career. He was diagnosed with a cardiac condition that would require season-ending surgery, sidelining his second year with the Celtics before it even began.

When Green underwent the procedure last January, Durant was right there with him after Green returned home to Washington, D.C. The Thunder were in town to play the Washington Wizards that month, and Durant made visiting his friend a priority.

"He came to see me and we hung out for a couple hours," said Green. "He told me just to stay strong, keep my faith, and if I needed him to call him and talk. It's kind of a thing where he's there for me if I need him."

The two keep in touch weekly via text message, where the conversations have shifted from recoveries to comebacks. Green returned to the court this season after inking a four-year deal with the Celtics and is establishing himself as one of their key players in the second unit.

He faced off with Durant on Friday for the first time since the trade, scoring a season-high 17 points in the Celtics 108-100 win over the Thunder. Durant finished with a game-high 29 points.

"When we play against each other, we go at it," said Green. "We play hard because we want to see each other do well. That's my brother and I want the best for him."

Green and Durant will not play against each other again until March 10 when the Celtics travel to Thunder territory. They won't let four months get in the way, though.

"Even though he's not my teammate, he's still one of my best friends," said Durant. "He's a guy that's going to be that way forever."

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

BOSTON – It’s easy to forget that Kelly Olynyk went several months without doing anything basketball-related as he was on the mend from shoulder surgery.

His return had its share of ups and downs, but it seems the 7-foot center has found his stride and he’s making opponents pay for it.

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk came up big for the Celtics as Boston continued on its winning ways with a 108-98 win over Charlotte.

Olynyk, who scored a season-high 26 points in Boston’s win at Atlanta on Friday, had an efficient 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting against the Hornets on Monday.

Assertive. Aggressive. Contract year.

It doesn’t matter how you describe what or why Olynyk is ballin’ so hard lately.

The point is he’s doing it a better job of recognizing opportunities to make plays and executing whatever role he’s being asked to play.

“Just feeling good with the second unit,” Olynyk said. “I’m just trying to be aggressive and help the starters out.”

In the past, teams have mixed up their defensive coverages on Olynyk which frequently left him being guarded by a quicker but smaller player, or a big man with limited mobility.

Often Olynyk settled for long range shots and 3’s, regardless of the defender.

But as we’ve seen the last couple of games, he has hurt teams with his scoring around the rim which has in turn opened things up for his teammates or himself.

“We need him to play like that all the time,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “When he’s aggressive, looking for his shot, shooting open shots, even getting in there getting rebounds, offensive put-backs, that only helps us as a unit. And he’s done a great job of that the past couple games. We need that from him.”

And as he gets further removed from his offseason surgery, opportunities for him to be an impactful player for Boston will only grow.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics win, and Isaiah Thomas has another offensive flurry in the fourth quarter. So what else is new? He led all scorers with 35 points which included 17 in the fourth quarter.

Kemba Walker

He’s still playing at a level that puts him in the All-Star conversation, but it’s not going to happen with the Hornets continuing to struggle. They’ve lost five in a row now despite Walker’s 24 points on Monday.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Boston is playing more inside-out basketball of late, and that’s opening things up for both Horford and his teammates. Against the Hornets he had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second straight game, Olynyk had a strong, impactful performance for the Celtics utilizing his strengths as a perimeter threat and a 7-footer who can take advantage of smaller defenders around the rim. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Marvin Williams

He was the only other Hornet besides Kemba Walker who really impacted the game significantly. Williams had 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting which included 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Jae Crowder

The 6-foot-6 Crowder continues to have a sneaky-good season for the Celtics, particularly with his 3-point shooting which ranks among the league leaders. On Monday he had 15 points which included a trio of 3-pointers to go with seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Nicolas Batum

Avery Bradley put most of his effort and attention into defending Batum and man, did it ever pay off. Batum grabbed 10 rebounds, but wound up missing nine of his 11 shots from the field to finish with just four points.

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL.