Celtics-Heat review: Green steps up for Boston


Celtics-Heat review: Green steps up for Boston

BOSTON Knowing the rest of the season will be a Rajon Rondo-less one, the Boston Celtics are going to need players to step up and fill the void.

The first to do so is Jeff Green, whose strong play on Sunday could not have come at a better time as the Celtics squeaked out a 100-98 double overtime win against Miami.

Green had 11 points off the bench, but more important than that, he played a pivotal role in forcing LeBron James into needing a ton of shots to put up LeBron-like numbers.

James had a game-high 34 points but needed 31 shots to do so.

There were times in the game when Doc Rivers would look over at Green and see that he was tired.

"The only coaching advice I had for him was, 'You can't get tired right now,'" Rivers said.

The fact that Rivers could tap into what Green was actually feeling, is a rarity.

Good or bad, winning or losing, Green rarely shows his emotions in the heat of battle.

Often that is seen as him not playing as hard as he should or giving the best effort.

"People outside this locker room, they don't know me," Green said. "What they see on the court, me not being a Kevin Garnett. But I play this game with all effort, all heart. I give it my all.

Green added, "I am emotional. I hate losing. I'm a competitive person. I just don't show it on the exterior."

The solid all-around play of Green was one of the keys to Boston's upset win over the Heat. Here are some other keys identified prior to the game and how they actually played out for the Celtics (21-23) as the C's snapped a season-long six game losing streak with the victory.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: This will be one of the few Miami Heat games in which the build-up isn't centered around LeBron James. Most of the attention leading up to today's game will be on former Celtic Ray Allen returning to the TD Garden for the first time since he left the C's for Miami during the offseason. The Celtics already have an idea of what Allen can do for the Heat. In the season-opener at Miami, Allen came off the Heat bench to score 19 points on 5-for-7 shooting in helping lead Miami to victory.

WHAT WE SAW: Ray Allen had a solid performance in his first game back facing the Celtics, leading all reserves in scoring with 21 points on 7-for-17 shooting.

After the game, Allen acknowledged it as being an emotional game, especially after the video tribute to him on the Jumbotron shortly before he entered the game in the first quarter.

"When you see something like that, you know when I saw it, just all those emotions came streaming back from all the great things we did here," Allen said. "And that's why I say I'll always remember the big games we played in and won, and I always know I'll always be a Celtic in my mind, regardless of what anyone else says."

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Dwyane Wade: The Bradley block of D-Wade last year is still one of the better defensive plays the NBA has seen in recent years. But this individual matchup, like most for Boston against Miami, will be a difficult one for the C's to compete with let alone win.

WHAT WE SAW: Bradley made Wade into a high volume shooter as Wade tallied 17 points while needing 20 shots (he made just six) to do so.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney Lee has been coming on strong of late and has earned the right to see more court time. He had 16 points off the Celtics bench against Atlanta despite not playing a single minute in the third quarter which as it turned out, was the C's worst quarter of the game and would ultimately prove to be their undoing.

WHAT WE SAW: Lee did not have a particularly impressive game offensively (4 points, 1-for-7 shooting), but his ability to defend all three perimeter positions at various times was a huge plus for the Celtics in getting the victory.

STAT TO TRACK: Keeping turnovers down will again be a priority for the Celtics. But it takes on even greater importance against a Heat team that's once again one of the best at generating offense off of their opponent's mistakes. Miami averages 18.1 points per game off of turnovers which ranks sixth in the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW: It was a pretty average night for the Heat's defense which forced the Celtics into turning the ball over 17 times which led to 18 points.

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

WALTHAM -- You won’t find the Boston Celtics blaming anyone but themselves for Saturday’s 127-123 overtime loss to Portland. 
But they certainly didn’t get any breaks down the stretch from the referees, who made a huge officiating mistake in the final seconds of regulation. 


Following a Celtics miss in the game’s closing seconds, Blazers guard Damian Lillard wound up with the ball but was stripped almost immediately by Marcus Smart, who put the steal back in for a lay-up that would have given Boston a one-point lead with 10.8 seconds to play. 
The ruling on the floor at the time was a foul against Smart. But officials later determined as part of their report on the final two minutes of the game, that the foul against Smart was an incorrect call.
“It just pisses you off, doesn’t it?” Crowder said. “It just pisses you off. I don’t like it.”
Crowder, like a number of players I have spoken to about this particular subject, is not a fan of the league releasing the information. 
And his reasoning, like his NBA brethren, is simple. 
There’s no recourse relative to that particular game if the officials in fact got a call wrong. 
So for their purposes, the transparency that the league is seeking, while just, doesn’t do them a damn bit of good when it comes to what matters most to them. Which is wins and losses. 
“It’s over now. It’s too late to confirm it now,” said Smart who told media following the loss that the steal was clean. “The game is over with. It is what it is; on to the next game now.”
Smart added that having the league confirm the call was wrong is frustrating. 
“They come back and tell you they miss the call, but it’s over now,” Smart said. “We’re on to the next game. It’s like they shouldn’t even said it. But I understand it; they’re trying to take responsibility and show they made a bad call. We appreciate it but at that time as a player it’s frustrating. That possibly could have won us the game.”
But as Smart, coach Brad Stevens and other players asked about it mentioned, Boston made so many mistakes against the Blazers and played so uncharacteristically for long stretches that it would be unfair and just not right to pin the game’s outcome on one bad call late in the game. 
“It happens,” said Stevens who added that he’s never read a two-minute report other than what he has seen published by the media. “There were plenty of things we could have done better.”
He’s right.
That blown call didn’t cost the Boston Celtics the game. 
Their play did. 
The Celtics turned the ball over 21 times that led to 34 points, both season highs. 
They couldn’t contain C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, two of the league’s most explosive guards who combined for 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting.
Boston allowed Myers Leonard to score a season-high 17 points. 
Certainly the bad call against Smart was a factor. 
But it would not have been an issue if the Celtics had done a better job of controlling the things they could have controlled, like defending shooters better, making smarter decisions when it came to passing the ball and maybe most significant, play with a higher, more consistent level of aggression around the rim. 

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.