Blakely: Green, Celtics shrink late in game again

Blakely: Green, Celtics shrink late in game again
November 4, 2013, 11:30 pm
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If only Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara had a jumpshot.

Because when you look at the Boston Celtics after four games, all losses, having someone to finish things off has not only kept Boston from their first win of the season but potentially being undefeated.

That job was supposed to belong to Jeff Green who had 22 points in Boston's 95-88 loss to Memphis.

By no means should this loss fall solely upon the shoulders of Green.

But there is no way to ignore that Green, the Celtics' best player, continues to come up short during the game's biggest moments as all of his game-high 22 points coming in the first three quarters of play.

Boston, which has led in the fourth quarter of every game this season, surged ahead by as many as seven points in the fourth against Memphis only to once again shrivel under the late-game pressure.

There were inexplicable turnovers, wide open misses along with a few ill-advised shots that now have the Celtics (0-4) off to their worst start since 1969 and one loss away from tying the franchise record for the worst start ever, a dubious distinction dating back to 1946.

For rookie head coach Brad Stevens, he has never lost four in a row as a head coach until now. And the last time he was even part of a four-game losing skid was 2004 when he was a Butler assistant.

Despite Memphis (2-2) being the best team the Celtics have faced this year, Boston didn't look deterred the least bit by the challenge.

Boston held its own in the first half which ended with the Celtics ahead 50-46.

Stevens told Comcast SportsNet's Abby Chin at the half that he wanted "more of the same" in the second half.

A 15-4 Celtics run to end the third quarter gave the Celtics a 72-66 lead going into the fourth.

But the fourth quarter rolled around and the Celtics just rolled over when the game's outcome was in the balance ... again.

They needed someone to put the brakes on their skidding ways, a hero to come in to save the day.

They needed Jeff Green to be, well, Jeff Green.

But his inability to deliver in the clutch is a combination of a couple things.

For starters, he's not nearly as aggressive as he should be in demanding the ball in the fourth quarter.

This was especially a head-scratcher on Monday when he was matched up in the second half with Memphis' Mike Miller who can do a number of things well - but defend a player like Green isn't one of them.

Despite having a size, athleticism and overall skillset advantage over Miller, the Celtics never seemed to make a true, concerted effort to get Green the ball.

Ideally, this will change when Rajon Rondo returns from his torn right ACL injury, whenever that is.

But in the meantime, the Celtics will continue to have Avery Bradley at the point. He had a nice game against Memphis, scoring 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting.

However, his success was in large part due to him playing more off the ball.

And Jordan Crawford, who saw action earlier than usual because of two quick fouls on Bradley, continues to prove that he is the best playmaker on this team.

Regardless of who is at the point, Green has to be the man running the show for the entire game and not just the first three quarters.

Otherwise, the Celtics will continue on their "Good try, Good effort" campaign that only a week into the season is starting to get old.

"This is, out of the four games that we've played, this is the best we played," said Stevens who added, "but it's not much of a silver lining for the guys in the locker room or me right now."