Green picking his spots with Garnett, Pierce in lineup

Green picking his spots with Garnett, Pierce in lineup
April 14, 2013, 2:00 pm
Share This Post

BOSTON — When Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen arrived on the scene in 2007, Paul Pierce had little choice but to make changes to his game if he wanted to win.

The way Pierce sees it, Jeff Green is going through a similar transformation now as a starter playing on a nightly basis.

While some might see Green as too often deferring to Pierce and Garnett during games, Pierce sees it as Green simply finding his way.

"It's always different just like when Kevin and Ray came," Pierce said. "I was a different player."

Still called upon at times to put the Celtics on his back, the pressure to carry the team every night after Garnett and Allen (now with Miami) arrived wasn't nearly as great on Pierce as it had been.

Part of Green's problem is that he has exposed the world to just how dominant he can be if either Pierce, Garnett or both are out of games. And it's not a surprise that he has been at his best scoring the ball when one of those two missed a game.

Green's career-high 43 point effort came against Miami, a game in which Garnett did not play. His next highest scoring game this season, a 34-point effort against Detroit and like the Heat game, no Garnett. The 31-point game at Phoenix and the 27-point games at New York and against Atlanta all came with Green in the role as the team's primary scorer because of injuries or rest for the veterans.

But to expect him to be that good, regardless of who else is on the floor, is just not being realistic.

"You don't expect Jeff to go out there and average 30, 40 points with me and Kevin out there," Pierce said. "That's understanding the game. He doesn't have to do that. He's letting the game come to him more when we're out there."

That certainly was the case in Sunday's 120-88 win at Orlando.

Green didn't shoot the ball particularly well (6-for-17), but he continued to assert himself as a scorer and finished with 17 points.

"It's something I have to do; I have to continue to be aggressive," Green said. "It opens things up for them. Defenses can't relax. I have to continue to put pressure on defense and continue to attack."

For Garnett, it's not about what Green does for the Celtics but instead what can he and others do to assist Green's ever-evolving game.

"A lot of times I feel like he does over-work or he does things that he doesn't necessarily have to," Garnett said. "The fact that he's aggressive is a great sign for us and I'm just continue to encourage him to do that."

Added Pierce: "He's had some huge games, gaining confidence by the game. He's starting to understand how important it is for him to continue to be aggressive, regardless of what me and Kevin are doing. We need him in that mold."

But there is a balance between playing with force and forcing the action.

"You want to do it within the team concept," Pierce said. "It's not go out there and force things because we want you to be aggressive. We want you to be aggressive, but in the right way. I think he's learning that."