OFFSEASON

Jeff Green's gaining steam

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Jeff Green's gaining steam

Last Friday, I left you with a rather intense criticism of Jeff Green. But more than a mere opinion-based rant, the post detailed a few statistics which proved that, through 18 games, the Celtics had been a significantly better team with Green on the bench.

And then I wrapped up the post with this: "In conclusion, (Green's) been a mess. In every sense of the word. But thankfully, it's still early. Too early write him off, at least. And Green has a great opportunity to turn some heads this weekend with two huge games against a legitimate Atlantic Division rival."

Fast forward to this afternoon, and that's exactly what Green has done. In fact, forget turning heads, he has our heads spinning, and has left Boston feeling more optimistic about Green's potential than we've been at any point since the preseason.

In the two games against Philadelphia, Green posted 19 and 16 points, respectively. He's now scored at least 16 in four out his last five games. And it's not only that he's scoring, but also how he's doing it by running the floor with Rondo, attacking the rim and basically looking like a guy who's confident and ready contribute every time he takes the floor, regardless of the opponent.

And really, for Green, that's the next step. Doing it every time he takes the floor.

The truth is that this past weekend wasn't our first glimpse of the real Jeff Green (or the player who we hope is the real Jeff Green). There have been flashes over the last month, but it's been nothing more than that. And the bottom line is that as great as Green has looked over the past few games, he's still only at the baseline of what the Celtics need from him this year. His success against Philadelphia was only encouraging compared to his early struggles. In reality, this is what it should have been all along. And now that he's hopefully (and finally) up-to-speed, it's time for the next level.

I don't want to sound like I'm downplaying Green's breakthrough. I agree that we should take some time and appreciate how far he's come. But when you start the season six weeks late, there's not much time to sit back and smell the roses. It's about moving forward. Getting better. And not being satisfied with merely meeting expectations, but instead, surpassing them.

Now more than ever, there's reason to believe that Green can get there. But he's still got some work to do before those beliefs become reality.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

OFFSEASON

Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

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Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

New England fans will get their first glimpse at the 2016-2017 Boston Celtics when they kick off their preseason schedule on October 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers at UMass-Amherst’s Mullins Center.

That game will feature two of the top three picks in last month’s draft as Ben Simmons, the top overall pick, will face Jaylen Brown, who was drafted by the Celtics with the third overall pick.

Boston’s 7-game schedule features no back-to-back games, but they do face the Charlotte Hornets in their second and third preseason games on Oct. 6 (in Greensboro, N.C.) and Oct. 8 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Here’s a look at Boston’s full preseason schedule:

DATE               OPPONENT                  LOCATION                                                        TIME
Oct. 4               Philadelphia 76ers         UMass-Amherst Mullins Center (Amherst, MA)     7:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 6               Charlotte Hornets          Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, NC)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 8               Charlotte Hornets          Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)                  3:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 13             Brooklyn Nets               Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)                          7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 15             New York Knicks           Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 17             Brooklyn Nets               TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 19             New York Knicks           TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET

OFFSEASON

Rivers dismisses Griffin-to-Boston rumors, wants Pierce to retire with Celtics

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Rivers dismisses Griffin-to-Boston rumors, wants Pierce to retire with Celtics

Doc Rivers appeared on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski and dismissed the Blake Griffin trade rumors, claiming that “bloggers” who “have nothing to do with the sport” were the cause of the Blake-to-Boston gossip.

“We are hoping that Blake ends his career playing for the Clippers,” Rivers told Woj. “No team is calling because teams know we don’t have any interest. It just tells you the different times. Things have changed. Everyone believes that they’re media now. There are so many good, credible guys, but then there’s some of the guys who are bloggers and have nothing to do with the sport.”

Rivers went on to explain that his youngest son, Spencer, even took the time out to trace the source of this "groundless" rumor.

“Danny [Ainge] and I have talked twice this summer. One was about the British Open, and the other was about another golf tournament. That’s about it,” Rivers explained. “But my son traced [where this rumor started] it to I think a Boston radio talk show and the guy didn’t say that we had been talking, but that Blake would be one of the guys the Celtics should go after. That started the next step, and then the next thing you know, it blew it up.”

Glenn Rivers sounds more like a politician than a doctor. Everyone knows politicians lie.

So Doc says he’s spoken to Danny only twice this summer -- both times about golf and “that’s about it.” But it's good to know they did apparently find the time to lay the groundwork for Paul Pierce to retire with the Celtics, if he does choose to call it a career.

“If Paul does decide to retire, we’re gonna make sure that Boston picks him up for one day and he retires a Celtic because that’s what he should retire as,” Rivers said. “We have all that in place. We just don’t know what he’s gonna do.”

Allowing Pierce to retire as a Celtic would be the right thing to do, for sure. He spent 15 seasons with the Celtics, won a title, and someday No. 34 will be hanging in the rafters. Ainge has also made it clear before that he'd love for Pierce to take on some type of front office role with the team after he retires from his playing career.

But Blake is the guy Celtics fans want now, so it’s understandable Doc would dispel the rumors regarding his four-time All-Star.

It doesn’t mean those conversations didn’t take place because trade talks happen every single day in the NBA. But considering Doc spent the opening minutes of the podcast discussing Blake, it certainly makes it seem like a deal is dead. At least for now.