Green putting it all together

920323.jpg

Green putting it all together

ALBANY, NY Jeff Green has goals this season that go beyond simply returning to action after missing all of last season following heart surgery.

While much of his offensive play thus far in the preseason has been praised, the 6-foot-9 forward is focused on leaving his imprint on the defensive side of the ball.

Saturday was certainly a step in that direction with Green's defense being one of the keys to fueling Boston's 109-98 come-from-behind win.

"That's my calling," Green said of his defense. "I have to be a guy who can go out there and guard the best player on the opposite team. Whether it's Carmelo (Anthony of the New York Knicks), LeBron (James of the Miami Heat), Kevin Durant (of Oklahoma City), Kobe Bryant (of the Los Angeles Lakers), whether it's a big, doesn't matter. I see myself as being one of the top defensive players in this league. I just have to go out there and prove it."

Green's versatility as a defender was on display Saturday night, as he took turns guarding smaller players like Mychel Thompson or bigs such as Chris Copeland.

"Jeff is so talented athletically, explosive," said Boston's Rajon Rondo. "We expect a lot out of Jeff, and he's accepted the challenge."

While that may be the case now, it certainly wasn't when he arrived via trade from Oklahoma City in 2011.

Green seemed to struggle finding his niche with the C's, something Doc Rivers attributes in part to him being surrounded by a slew of future Hall of Famers and current all-stars.

"It's hard to be aggressive on our team," Rivers said. "When you're new, you see Kevin (Garnett) next to you, and Rondo you almost feel like you shouldn't be aggressive. Every new guy that has come to our team, even veterans have had that problem."

Although having an aggressive mindset is a plus, it's not a necessity in Rivers' eyes.

"Sometimes that's just not who you are; you are a player that defers," Rivers said. "That's not all bad, either. As good as Jeff Green is, sometimes he falls into that category when he defers to the other guys. We're trying to convince him at times he's the best player on the floor. Because Jeff's so team-oriented, I don't think he sees himself that way but we do."

Unleashing that aggressive side is a lot easier on nights like Saturday when both Paul Pierce and Garnett were given the night off.

So it should have come as no surprise that two of the C's most aggressive players were rookie Kris Joseph (13 points) and Green who both saw more minutes than usual because of Pierce's absence.

When Green inked a four-year, 36 million contract to return to Boston, he repeatedly said that his level of aggression would not be an issue.

So far, he's kept his word.

"If I'm aggressive, it opens up everything for them; plain and simple," Green said. "I just have to go out there and take my turn. When the ball comes my way, make a play; make a play for my teammates."

We expect greatness out of everyone and Jeff has the tools. I wouldn't push a guy who doesn't have any talent. I would encourage him but the way I'm on Jeff, Courtney (Lee), Jared (Sullinger), I expect a lot from those guys and they're going to be big for us. It may seem like I'm on them all the time, but like I said gotta get those guys to jump on board and expect and demand greatness every night."

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford was destined to play in tonight’s game between Boston and Houston.
 
But for which team?
 
That was the question the four-time All-Star pondered this summer when he narrowed his list of suitors outside of Atlanta to Boston, Houston and Washington, in that order.
 
“I really considered coming here,” Horford told reporters on Monday. “But them and Boston and Washington. (Houston) and Boston were probably the two teams I was really, really looking at. Just a lot to consider.”

When you look at how seamless Horford has fit in with the Celtics and how well the Rockets (13-7) have played this season, you get the feeling that Horford would have found success individually and for whichever team he chose.
 
“At the end of the day, I just felt I was better off being here in Boston,” Horford said.
 
Rockets All-Star James Harden was among the party Houston sent to try and woo Horford to the Rockets.

“I thought we had a chance,” Harden said. “I thought we had a real good chance, but obviously it didn’t work out. Which is fine.”
 
Indeed, the Rockets have been one of the surprise teams of the NBA this season in large part to Harden moving to the point guard position full-time.
 
Not only is he once again ranked among the NBA’s top scorers at 28.3 points which ranks fourth in the NBA, but he’s also dishing out a league-high 11.8 assists per game.
 
“They made it pretty clear in the offseason that he was going to be the point guard,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “He’s got the ball all the time. He had the ball a lot before, but certainly now with their spacing and his ability to make the play himself or the right read to the big rolling or to the many good shooters around, it’s a perfect setup for him and his skillset.”
 
The ability to draw defenders and create space for those around him is one of the many reasons why the Rockets felt Horford would have been an ideal fit for their system.
 
But the same argument can be made for the Celtics who unlike the Rockets, at least attempt to play defense at a high level.
 
Boston began the season ranked among the worst defenses in the NBA, but are currently up to 18th with a defensive rating of 105.0. Meanwhile, the Rockets’ defense ranks 27th in the league with a 107.2 defensive rating.