What we saw isn't what we'll get with Green

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What we saw isn't what we'll get with Green

MIAMI For weeks, we have been told by both our ears and eyes that Jeff Green was a changed man.

The sometimes timid, unsure and mostly unpredictable -- but ridiculously talented -- swing man was no longer in the building.

It almost had the feel of a campaign spiel, hearing Green remind us all that he would assert himself on a nightly basis and deliver the kind of high impact play that anyone who has seen him play knows he's capable of delivering.

Then the Boston Celtics played a game that mattered on Tuesday night.

Unfortunately for Green and the C's, the new Jeff Green looked a lot like the old one in Boston's 120-107 loss at Miami in the season opener for both teams.

It's too soon to beat up Green too much. After all, it's just the first game and, for Green, it was his first game in more than a year.

Afterwards, Green talked about how the emotions of having had such a long layoff from the game played a role in his struggles early on against the Heat.

"I had to deal with it a lot the first couple of minutes," Green said. "Just the adrenaline kicked in, got tired quickly. That's not an excuse. I have to do a way better job."

That was the general sentiment heard from most of Green's teammates following the loss.

"We've got a lot of work to do," Paul Pierce said afterward. "We're going to continue to grow."

That includes Green, who is just 26 years old and, by NBA standards, still has a couple of years before his game should peak.

A big part of his growth is simply becoming more consistent, not just in terms of his play but also his demeanor.

Green is a likable guy, well-regarded by his teammates, fans and the media.

But good guys are trumped by great talent in this market.

And when you talk about Green, it is temperament -- not talent -- that has been the issue.

Simply put, he has to morph himself, and all those skills that he possesses, into a difference-maker in order for the Celtics to have the kind of season they envision.

Most nights, Green is a mismatch waiting to be exploited by the Celtics.

And part of the blame has to be placed on the C's, who from time to time, tend to go away from or ignore some of the many options that favor them.

But ultimately, Green's play comes back to his level of aggression.

And fair or unfair, Tuesday's performance gave those who are still skeptical even more reason to doubt he'll be as big an X-factor as many believe.

But here's the thing.

Prior to him missing last season, one could legitimately question his toughness and temperament. It fluctuated in just about every part of his play.

But this Jeff Green is a different player than the one Boston acquired via trade from Oklahoma City.

The one blessing of his heart surgery is that it allowed him to sit back and see the game from a perspective that so few young NBA players ever get an opportunity to do.

Green saw first-hand how the best players in the league, at his position, played with an edge most nights and that edge was a big factor in their success.

It wasn't anything Green hadn't heard before.

But to see guys like Pierce and LeBron James and Kevin Durant and a host of elite wings go so hard so consistently -- and not have an opportunity to compete himself at the time -- has brought about a renewed focus to bring that kind of aggressive play to the floor.

True, it was nowhere to be found on Tuesday.

But that doesn't mean it's not in him.

He made a point during the preseason to dispel his critics with a bevy of dunks, highlight-worthy blocked shots and an overall game that actually made him stand out on a second unit that already includes a pair of Sixth Man of the Year (Leandro Barbosa and Jason Terry) award winners.

But dominating Emporio Armani isn't quite the same as dealing with elite teams in the NBA like the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

The C's are doing the right thing in not putting too much stock into what truly was just one of 82 regular-season games.

Green will get his chance -- plenty of them, actually -- to make amends for his lackluster return to the floor on Tuesday.

Having gone through all that he has this past year, it's only a matter of time before the changes that we've heard about and seen glimpses of, will be in plain sight for all to see.

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

WALTHAM -- The team flight to Washington for tomorrow night's game against the Wizards will be a little lighter than the Celtics would like. 
 
Boston continues to be cautious with Avery Bradley and his right Achilles strain injury. Coach Brad Stevens confirmed that the 6-foot-2 guard won't travel and will sit out for the seventh time in the last eight games. 

Stevens added he didn't anticipate Bradley returning to the court anytime this week, which means he's likely not to return until next week's game against Detroit on Jan. 30. 
 
Bradley won’t be the only Celtic not making the trip for health-related reasons. Gerald Green and Demetrius Jackson are both not traveling due to sickness. 
 
However, the Celtics did get a bit of good news on the health front. Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller, both having missed games with sickness, will take the trip to D.C. with the rest of their teammates.

Super Bowl appearances aren't old hat to all the Patriots

Super Bowl appearances aren't old hat to all the Patriots

FOXBORO -- It’s old hat to plenty of the Patriot, but certainly not all of them. A whole lot of players who joined the team since 2015 haven’t been to a Super Bowl. That says an awful lot about the personnel department headed by Nick Caserio with Dave Ziegler heading up pro personnel and Monti Ossenfort doing college personnel. 

Two of them -- cornerback Eric Rowe and linebacker Kyle Van Noy -- figured in the two Steelers turnovers in Sunday night’s AFC Championship Game. Both joined the team via in-season trades. 

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So in the afterglow of the Patriots postgame locker room, we asked a few of them what their emotions were upon realizing they were going to the Super Bowl

Eric Rowe (acquired via trade with Eagles, September 6): "It’s been a long road. Everyone has their own journey and how they got here but just for me, it’s been a long road. During OTAs and training camp down in Philadelphia, it was frustrating. I didn’t understand why I was sliding down the depth chart but I just kept my head down and kept working and once I got traded here I had to learn a whole new culture and defense and then I got hurt. Through those ups and downs it’s been all worth it. My parents, my girlfriend, my agent, all through training camp with the Eagles kept telling me, ‘Just keep your head up, there’s always something greater on the other side. Don’t stop working, keep working because you never know when you’ll get your chance and, ‘Boom’ I got traded so that was the way around that obstacle. And now I know what’s on the other side. 

Kyle Van Noy (acquired via trade with Lions, October 26): “I took a lot of heat [in Detroit]. I wasn’t living up to what I was capable of doing, even for myself. I had high expectations and I just wasn’t fitting in right away and it was great to get a fresh start and I’m really blessed to have them trust in me to come in and contribute. I don’t know if you ever get comfortable here. You better learn or they’re gonna pass up on you. I’m just grateful for the opportunity. Eric and I are holding it down for the Utah schools (Rowe went to Utah; Van Noy to BYU). We’re here to represent. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I am truly blessed and the man upstairs is looking out.”

Chris Long (signed in March as free agent): "I honestly didn't know they did the confetti thing after. Because I'm usually at the bar with these games are going on. And maybe it's a little later at night. I've turned it off. I didn't know they did the confetti thing after the AFC Championship. That was a real plus . . . because I love confetti. There's no bad situation where there's confetti. I can't think of one. I certainly feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. I’m on a helluva football team and lucky to be a part of it and we’ve earned the right for one more opportunity. It means something different to everybody. We come from different backgrounds, we come from different teams but we’ve all earned this together. It’s a melting pot in that way."

David Andrews (signed as undrafted free agent, 2015) whose great uncle is former Atlanta coach Dan Reeves: "When the Falcons went [in 1998], my parents couldn't take me, but they went." (Is he still sore about that?) "Not anymore. Not at this moment."

Joe Thuney (drafted in third round in May): "It's just a great opportunity. You've got people like Marty [Bennett] and Chris Long that have played so long and just don't get the opportunity. You just got to take advantage of it, and soak upevery minute, and just prepare as best you can, I think. Just go out there and do the best you can."

Malcolm Mitchell (drafted in fourth round in May): "I have no idea [what to expect]. I'm pretty sure I'll be debriefed. And guys will tell me everything I need to know walking into it."

Jabaal Sheard (signed as free agent, 2015): “Great feeling. Unreal. Just an awesome feeling. We gotta get this ring, man and go finish this thing off. It’s exciting, obviously. I’ve heard the stories from the guys who’ve been here. It’s huge. We have to go out there and take care of business.” 

Phil Perry contributed to this report.