Green soaking in every moment with Celtics


Green soaking in every moment with Celtics

WALTHAM The first day of practice can be a drag for many NBA players.

Not for Jeff Green, who was fighting a losing battle in trying to hide his ear-to-ear grin.

"It was hard," said Green, still trying (and failing miserably) to mask a smile. "I was trying not to smile too much in practice, keep a straight face."

Can you blame him?

The 6-foot-9 forward inked a four-year, 36 million deal with the C's this summer, which is enough right there to be giddy.

But when you consider what he has gone through this past year and how this was his first training camp with the Celtics, being in a jovial mood makes sense.

After being acquired midway through the 2010 season from Oklahoma City, Green had to sit out all of last season after a routine physical showed an abnormality with his heart. That ultimately led to the one-year, 9 million contract he signed being voided, in addition to him needing season-ending heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.

Months of rehabilitation and workouts followed, bringing Green to the Saturday where he was ready to go all-out - literally.

Throughout the C's first practice, Green was doing what he does best - run the floor - which caught the eye of many, including head coach Doc Rivers.

While Rivers was pleased with the conditioning of most of his players, Green stood out.

"Jeff looked great," Rivers said. "He had one of the better practices. His conditioning was phenomenal. I thought that was great."

Even if he struggled, just being back on the floor is a blessing that Green does not take for granted.

He acknowledged that there was a point in which he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to return to the NBA.

Green is not only back, but he's seemingly in even better health than before the surgery.

That bodes well for Green being able to have the kind of major impact off the bench that he and the C's are hoping for.

One way of helping make that happen would be to cut down Paul Pierce's minutes, something Rivers said he will look into trying to do this season.

Pierce, who has averaged at least 34 minutes per game in each of his 14 NBA seasons, said he has no problem with Green getting some of his playing time.

"He's a guy that makes our lineup so much more versatile," Pierce said. "He can switch from the 3 (small forward) to the 4 (power forward), or he can make us a big lineup with him at the 3 and me at the 2 (shooting guard)."

Green said he spent most of Saturday's practice primarily at the small forward position.

But there's no question that with Rivers wanting to play more "small ball" this year, there will be times and lineups in which Green will be called upon to play multiple positions.

Green is clearly more comfortable at small forward.

Considering all that he has gone through this past year, being on the court is a reward in itself.

"I've gone through the tough times and I beat it," Green said. "Now I'm in great condition; my game is getting right and I'm just happy to play basketball."

Green added, "The surgery is behind me. Good times in front of me."

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

BOSTON – No one is proclaiming DeMarcus Cousins’ demeanor is all that radically different than past seasons. 

But the volatile nature that has often overshadowed his on-the-court-brilliance, doesn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to. 

Maybe he’s growing up. 

Maybe he’s finally comfortable with his team. 

And then there’s the almighty dollar which was the incentive for one of his teammates, Matt Barnes, to clean up his act as far as racking up technical fouls and being fined by the league. 

I asked Barnes whether there was a light bulb moment or a teammate or player that helped him get on track and not draw so much attention from officials and the league office. 

“It was all the money I was being fined,” he said. “I think I lost like $600,000 over my career for fines. It was time to kind of wake and say ‘hey, they don’t like you so you have to stick to the book.’”

With Barnes returning to Sacramento (he played for the Kings during the 2004-2005 season), he finds an intense, kindred spirit of sorts in Cousins who like Barnes has had his share of technical and fines handed down by the league office. 

This season, Cousins is the NBA’s leader in technical fouls with six. 

“I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I’m just a passionate player. I play with my emotion on my sleeve. I think DeMarcus does the same thing. What I’m trying to show him now, we have to keep our emotions and energy focused towards the right things. That could be detrimental to the team if it gets out of hand.”

First-year coach Dave Joerger has been pleased to see how different Cousins is to be around on a daily basis as opposed to how he’s perceived. 

“He gets credit for his talent. He gets credit that he’s improved in the league,” Joerger said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for the way that his approach to the game and the way that he’s carrying himself and conducting himself has greatly improved. He’s a good person. Now being with him, I see improvement over the last three years, the way that he goes about his business. I think that’s very positive.”

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

BOSTON – Here are a few odds and ends to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings: 
· The Celtics have won eight in a row over the Kings in Boston, with the last loss to Sacramento at the TD Garden coming on Jan. 19, 2007. Current Celtic Gerald Green was in the starting lineup that night. 

· Only six times in franchise history have the Celtics launched 38 or more 3-pointers in a game, four of which came in the month of November this season. 

· Speaking of 3-pointers, 36.2 percent of Boston’s shots are 3s. That ranks fifth in the league behind Houston, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Golden State.

· Don’t be surprised if Avery Bradley gets off to a good start tonight, especially from 3-point range. He’s shooting 59.1 percent on 3s in the first quarter which ranks second in the league. 

· Isaiah Thomas tallied 395 points scored in November, the most by a Celtic since John Havlicek had 406 points in November during the 1971-1972 season. 

· Boston leads the NBA in points scored (46.3 per game) by second-round picks. The Celtics’ second-round picks include Isaiah Thomas; Jae Crowder; Amir Johnson; Jonas Jerebko; Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey.

· The Celtics are 5-0 this season when they outrebound an opponent. 

· Tonight’s game will be Boston’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. In the first game, they are 3-1 this season. On the second night, they are 2-2.