Blakely: Green becoming 'star-on-the-rise'

Blakely: Green becoming 'star-on-the-rise'
February 23, 2013, 12:30 am
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Jeff Green and the Celtics begin preseason play Oct. 7 at TD Garden against Toronto.

(USA Today Images)

PHOENIX — Jeff Green sat at his locker stall, gradually peeling off one layer after layer of his drenched uniform.

It was a fitting image because on this night, Green may have finally shed the image many have of him as a talented-but-inconsistent performer.

Green wasn't just good in Boston's 113-88 thrashing of the Phoenix Suns.

He was far and away the best player on the floor this night, making the most of his opportunity to shine as one of the C's established stars (Kevin Garnett) had the night off.

The 6-foot-9 forward scored a season-high 31 points in the victory, beating up the Suns defenders in every way imaginable.

"He's a matchup nightmare," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "At 3 (small forward), he can post you. At 4 (power forward), he has speed. And when he's making his jumper like he was (Friday night), then it's pretty much a tough night for whoever is guarding him."

And unlike some of his stronger performances this season, Green showed no signs of letting up his level of aggression.

In fact, it seemed to only increase as the game went along.

Green said his approach to the game was no different with the starters as it would have been had he come off the bench.

"Come out, be aggressive and try to make a statement out of the game early," Green said. "That's what I did."

Boston opened with a 13-0 run with the last five points scored by Green.

He would continue to establish his presence on the floor, and he didn't do it all by scoring, either.

Along with his 31 points, Green also grabbed seven rebounds and swatted away five shots in addition to tallying four assists.

It was as complete a game as the Celtics have had from Green since he's been in Boston.

But more than anything, it falls in line with what has been a steady trend of strong offensive games from Green.

His previous season-high was 20 points, and that came just three days ago at Denver. In Boston's 10 games this month, Green has had at least 14 points scored in eight of them.

While Green certainly deserved plenty of praise for Boston's win and his overall play, he'll be the first to tell you that there was still room for both him and the Celtics to improve upon moving forward.

And moving forward is exactly what Green is about these days.

Even though it has been almost two years, there's still a sizable segment of Celtics Nation that's not sold on Green as a player, and still lament the C's for trading Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for him.

One of the main reasons has been Green's inability to play with consistency, something that's due in part to the heart surgery he had that ended his 2011-2012 season before it even began.

The time he spent with the team while recovering helped him connect with this team, this franchise in a way that only strengthened his resolve during those tough times earlier this year when his mind knew what it wanted to do, but his body couldn't follow through.

Lately, everything is starting to come together for Green. The consistent effort at both ends of the floor is no longer just a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of thing.

Green is developing into the kind of star-on-the-rise that the C's have steadfastly believed he would be someday.

Which is what we're seeing with Green as he gradually sheds one layer of inconsistency at a time, and leaves fans with a talented player whose upside and potential is enormous.