Green putting it all together

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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."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics host the Hornets at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

BOSTON -- The last time Boston saw the Charlotte Hornets last month, both teams were streaking in the wrong direction with each coming in having lost three in a row.

Both come into tonight’s game streaking, although in two very different directions.

Boston (25-15) has won 12 of its last 15 games to firmly establish itself as the third-best team in the East behind Cleveland and Toronto. Meanwhile the Hornets (20-20) are on the cusp of falling below .500 for the first time this season after losing their last four games.

Still, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has seen enough of this Hornets team to know that a win tonight won’t come easily.

“This is a good team,” Stevens said. “We all know Charlotte. They don’t beat themselves. We’ve had to play really well against those guys. This is going to be a tough one, as we all know.”

Figuring out why these two teams are trending in opposite directions isn’t all that complicated.

For the Celtics, their success of late has hinged heavily on their ability to make 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s problems have had a lot to do with a tough slate of road games (all four of their recent losses were on the road) and their inability to make shots which has been an issue in some form for them all season regardless of the opponent.

Look at the last four games, all of which the Hornets lost while the Celtics won three of their four games in that span.

The Hornets rank 21st in scoring with a 101.5 points per game average while the Celtics average 110.8 points which ranks 8th in the league.

Charlotte ranks dead-last in the league the last four games when it comes to shooting the ball (40.5 percent), while Boston comes in 18th at 46.0 percent.

But it’s the 3-point shot and its impact on having an effective field goal percentage, that really separates these two.

Boston has averaged a league-best 15.3 made 3-pointers in the last four games while the Hornets and their 9.8 made 3’s ranks 20th.

And as far as its impact on eFG%, Boston comes in with the eighth-best eFG% in the league (54.8 percent) while the Hornets next-to-last in the NBA with an eFG% of .462.

So what does that mean tonight?

Boston will look to continue being fueled offensively by good ball movement and attacking the rim which in turn should result in lots of good looks from 3-point range which is clearly a strength of this team.

Charlotte will search for other sources of offense besides former UConn star Kemba Walker who is on the short list of candidates for a spot on this year’s Eastern Conference all-star roster.

As was the case in Charlotte’s 102-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, an off-night shooting for Walker (17 points, 7-for-23 shooting with three assists) left the Hornets extremely vulnerable to defeat. Similar struggles tonight will provide a similar ending for Charlotte which would allow both teams to continue streaking along … something the Celtics wouldn’t mind at all.