Celtics get bench help to stop the Pacers, 92-80

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Celtics get bench help to stop the Pacers, 92-80

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Before Jeff Green was traded to the Boston Celtics and become a key backup, he spent more than 90 percent of his career as a starter with the Oklahoma City.

And just in case anyone forgot, games like Wednesday's 92-80 win over the Indiana Pacers serve as a reminder.

Green had 19 points off the Celtics bench, including 17 in the first half as the C's pulled away for a much-needed victory.

His play was part of a strong night for the Celtics' bench, which outscored their Indiana counterparts, 39-24.

"The second unit got our energy up," said coach Doc Rivers. "Second unit came and it just played."

And their play, particularly in the second quarter, seemed to inspire Boston's starters - specifically, the Big Three.

Green scored 12 straight points in the second that put the C's ahead, 31-29.

His one-man scoring binge was followed by some big shots from the Big Three - Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce - who scored all 11 points during an 11-2 Celtics run that put the C's ahead, 42-31.

"They the second unit were great today," said Pierce who led all scorers with 20 points to go with five assists.

One of the biggest questions with the Celtics has been how quickly can their second unit come together with a number of key players either out with injuries or, in the case of Delonte West, just coming back to the fold after being injured.

Even with all the changes and uncertainty as to who will play, Rivers can see their growth into a formidable unit.

"Well, they're more talented now, number one," Rivers said. "The talent is growing with that second unit. You've got Jeff Green in your second unit, Delonte West in your second unit, Glen Davis. Pretty good second unit."

And on Wednesday, their success began with Green, who acknowledges that his role with the C's is still a work in progress.

"I just go out there and just be aggressive," Green said. "I just go out there and play hard. You play hard and it makes up for a lot of things and leads to some good things."

One of Green's strengths has been his ability to beat most players, regardless of whether he's playing small forward or power forward, down the court quickly.

And his hustle has been rewarded with a lot of good looks in transition from Rajon Rondo, who had eight assists on Wednesday night.

He's also benefited from a small lineup that includes him on the floor with the man he was brought in to play behind, Paul Pierce.

"When me and Jeff are out there, it really causes a matchup situation," Pierce said. "He's so good in the post-up area, along with myself, teams have to decide who they're gong to match up with. Usually one of us is going to have the favorable matchup. It's great because teams don't know what to do. It makes us dangerous out there."

Indiana coach Frank Vogel, a former Celtics video coordinator, acknowledges that this new-look Celtics team does present a new set of problems for opponents.

"They got some different dynamics," said Vogel, whose team had its two-game winning streak snapped. "Jeff Green coming in and playing small forward is a different dynamic with him in the post. They now have two 3-point shooting power forwards they can throw at you. There's a little bit of a different dynamic."

And that dynamic in many ways makes this Celtics team one that keeps them in the conversation for winning an NBA title.

"They're going to go deep," Vogel said.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON – While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder … we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.