Blakely: Pierce and Green have become 'lethal 1-2 punch'

Blakely: Pierce and Green have become 'lethal 1-2 punch'
March 30, 2013, 4:45 pm
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Injuries combined with strong play by Paul Pierce and Jeff Green has transformed this duo into a lethal 1-2.

(USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — When the season began, the Boston Celtics pegged Jeff Green as a valuable fill-in coming off the bench for Paul Pierce.

But injuries combined with strong play by both has transformed this duo into a lethal 1-2 punch in the starting lineup that seems to be getting better and better with time.

Friday's 118-107 win over Atlanta was the latest example of how Pierce and Green can not only play together but thrive without getting in one another's way.

Green led the C's against the Hawks with 27 points while Pierce had his third triple-double this season (and 10th of his career) with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

That kind of production bodes well for an undermanned Celtics squad that needs its best players to elevate their games in Sunday's game against the New York Knicks and in the remaining regular season games as well as the playoffs.

Pierce's production isn't all that unexpected or new. He is one of the NBA's all-time great scorers who has done it in a variety of ways, whether it's getting to the free throw line or knocking down 3-pointers.

But it has been the combination of Green's aggression being more consistent, and Pierce's willingness to allow Green to do his thing without feeling the need to dominate at all times, that has fueled this unlikely pairing.

When Green scored the game-winning shot over the Cavs, Doc Rivers made the decision to call the game-winning play for Green instead of looking for Pierce.

"I thought he (Green) was our best advantage," Rivers said after the 93-92 win over the Cavs. "Paul is our best offensive player, but there’s certain nights when somebody else on your team has a better advantage. And I thought Jeff at the 4 (power forward) was a matchup advantage for us. And I figured that I’m going to go with the better advantage."

And while this might mean fewer shots for Pierce, the Captain is perfectly cool with that. Because as fans saw on Friday, Pierce is savvy enough to find ways to help the C's even if he's not the 24/7, 365-days of the year,  number one option.

"He's just so smart, and he's never in a rush," Rivers said of Pierce.

But Rivers cautions Pierce about approaching games with the mindset of being a passer which takes away from what he does best - scoring the ball.

"We just told him to, 'Be an aggressive scorer. Your instincts will make you pass,'" Rivers said. "When he goes in the game threis to pass he gets himself in trouble. When he goes into games to try and be the scorer, they're going to double team. He's going to have to pass. He'll make the right decisions that way. I like that mindset better."

That was certainly the case on Friday when Pierce's 10 assists were spread out to Avery Bradley (2), Terrence Williams (1), Jason Terry (3) and last but certainly not least, Jeff Green (3).

"It puts a lot of pressure on teams, when we're both out there playing our game," Green told CSNNE.com. "You can't really concentrate on one of us and not the other. It's working for us."

And the Celtics who hope to use these last 10 games to not only improve in their overall play and consistency, but rack up a few more wins in the process.

"Winning games, and improving; that's all we're playing for, that's all we're about right now," Terry told CSNNE.com. "Moving up in the standings would be cool. We'll take it. But being the best team we can be health-wise and with our continuity, we'll take that over any of that other stuff any day."

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(Replay 8pm)
Celtics vs Magic