Celtics-Heat review: Green steps up for Boston

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Celtics-Heat review: Green steps up for Boston

BOSTON Knowing the rest of the season will be a Rajon Rondo-less one, the Boston Celtics are going to need players to step up and fill the void.

The first to do so is Jeff Green, whose strong play on Sunday could not have come at a better time as the Celtics squeaked out a 100-98 double overtime win against Miami.

Green had 11 points off the bench, but more important than that, he played a pivotal role in forcing LeBron James into needing a ton of shots to put up LeBron-like numbers.

James had a game-high 34 points but needed 31 shots to do so.

There were times in the game when Doc Rivers would look over at Green and see that he was tired.

"The only coaching advice I had for him was, 'You can't get tired right now,'" Rivers said.

The fact that Rivers could tap into what Green was actually feeling, is a rarity.

Good or bad, winning or losing, Green rarely shows his emotions in the heat of battle.

Often that is seen as him not playing as hard as he should or giving the best effort.

"People outside this locker room, they don't know me," Green said. "What they see on the court, me not being a Kevin Garnett. But I play this game with all effort, all heart. I give it my all.

Green added, "I am emotional. I hate losing. I'm a competitive person. I just don't show it on the exterior."

The solid all-around play of Green was one of the keys to Boston's upset win over the Heat. Here are some other keys identified prior to the game and how they actually played out for the Celtics (21-23) as the C's snapped a season-long six game losing streak with the victory.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: This will be one of the few Miami Heat games in which the build-up isn't centered around LeBron James. Most of the attention leading up to today's game will be on former Celtic Ray Allen returning to the TD Garden for the first time since he left the C's for Miami during the offseason. The Celtics already have an idea of what Allen can do for the Heat. In the season-opener at Miami, Allen came off the Heat bench to score 19 points on 5-for-7 shooting in helping lead Miami to victory.

WHAT WE SAW: Ray Allen had a solid performance in his first game back facing the Celtics, leading all reserves in scoring with 21 points on 7-for-17 shooting.

After the game, Allen acknowledged it as being an emotional game, especially after the video tribute to him on the Jumbotron shortly before he entered the game in the first quarter.

"When you see something like that, you know when I saw it, just all those emotions came streaming back from all the great things we did here," Allen said. "And that's why I say I'll always remember the big games we played in and won, and I always know I'll always be a Celtic in my mind, regardless of what anyone else says."

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Dwyane Wade: The Bradley block of D-Wade last year is still one of the better defensive plays the NBA has seen in recent years. But this individual matchup, like most for Boston against Miami, will be a difficult one for the C's to compete with let alone win.

WHAT WE SAW: Bradley made Wade into a high volume shooter as Wade tallied 17 points while needing 20 shots (he made just six) to do so.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney Lee has been coming on strong of late and has earned the right to see more court time. He had 16 points off the Celtics bench against Atlanta despite not playing a single minute in the third quarter which as it turned out, was the C's worst quarter of the game and would ultimately prove to be their undoing.

WHAT WE SAW: Lee did not have a particularly impressive game offensively (4 points, 1-for-7 shooting), but his ability to defend all three perimeter positions at various times was a huge plus for the Celtics in getting the victory.

STAT TO TRACK: Keeping turnovers down will again be a priority for the Celtics. But it takes on even greater importance against a Heat team that's once again one of the best at generating offense off of their opponent's mistakes. Miami averages 18.1 points per game off of turnovers which ranks sixth in the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW: It was a pretty average night for the Heat's defense which forced the Celtics into turning the ball over 17 times which led to 18 points.

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.