Decent debuts for Green and Krstic

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Decent debuts for Green and Krstic

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES Heading into Saturdays game against the Clippers, Doc Rivers didnt set the bar very high for his two new acquisitions.

After all, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic had barely been with the team for a day. That mornings hour-long shootaround had been their lone experience with the Celtics system and alongside their new Celtics teammates. There's so much they still need to learn, and wont understand for some time.

So when it came time for their debuts, Doc kept it real simple

"I told them both: Just play hard," he said before the game. "Play free. If you're open, shoot. Don't try to fit in, we'll fit in. Right now, we just have to win a couple games and get some practices under our belt to get them integrated more. So go for it, just go out and play."

And they did. And what they showed is about what everyone expected. They looked like two capable, but relatively out-of-place pros. But at the same time, they displayed enough skills and potential to leave coaches, teammates and themselves satisfied and ready to keep building towards the playoffs.

They were good, said Rivers after the win. I mean, they didnt know a lot of the stuff we were running but they both had some bright moments for us. You could see theyll be really good.

Green finished with 7 points in nearly 18 minutes of action, while Krstic played 21 minutes, scored 9 points and grabbed 6 rebounds amazingly, all on the offensive end.

After the fact, Krstic admitted to being very nervous leading up to tip-off.

I think thats normal, said Krstic. Especially for me, Ive never been traded before and never been in this situation. So I was nervous. Even yesterday and shootaround this morning. The whole new situation. Everything is new and I wasnt used to it.

If he was feeling jittery, Krstic, who got the start at center, didnt show it early as he grabbed two offensive rebounds and threw in a lay-up on Bostons first possession.

I always go or try to get offensive rebounds, he said, but maybe I was more aggressive today. When somebody gives you an opportunity to play, you really appreciate that and you play hard.

His six offensive rebounds were an individual high for a Celtics this season.

Green, on the other hand, did show some early nerves. He entered the game for Paul Pierce with two minutes left in the first quarter, and couldnt quite find his rhythm. He drew a foul with 27 seconds left, and then missed badly on his first free throw.

I had to get the first one out, he said, but after that I kind of relaxed, and got my rhythm and things started to go well for me.

It went well for both players, or at least as well as it could. There were times where they both looked especially lost on defense, but thats to be expected in a system as complex and precise as Boston's. Both lacked a certain rhythm on offense, but again, this was the first time, for the most part, theyd played with anyone else on the court.

I didnt expect anything, Krstic said, I dont even know all the offensive plays, and defensively I was a little bit confused.

Just the transition, Green cited as his biggest source of discomfort. Getting that lingo down; just the terms that they use. The plays were confusing, obviously but weve got great vets, and theyre going to lead the way for me, show me what to do. And Im a good learner, a fast learner and I think today went pretty well.

When it comes to Green, the learning curve bends both ways. While hes attempting to figure out the ebb and flow of the Celtics system, his coach will be trying to figure out the best way the versatile Green fits in.

You know, Im gonna have to figure out how to use Jeff, Rivers admitted. I have no idea yet. Thats gonna take some time.

Its all going to take time. For the coach to be comfortable. For the new players to feel comfortable. For the old players to feel comfortable. But for now, every one seems very confident that they will, in fact, all get comfortable, and that what Green and Krstic bring to the table will inevitably help the Cs get to a better place.

These arent rookies we brought in, said Delonte West. We picked off guys who know how to play this game, and its just about getting repetitions together and trust in one another.

We know what they can do, said Kevin Garnett. Its just about how they fit into our system. When and where they want the ball. Timing, you know, things of that such. Me and Krstic did a lot of talking today. A lot of communication about the small things. And I told them both, what ever they need to make this comfortable, let me know.

For now, all they need is a little more time to find their way. And then the real work can start to get done. And in the meantime, it wont hurt if the Cs can keep putting up victories.

Man, it felt good., Green said. First game out there with a new team, got the first win under our belt and hopefully theres many more to come."

Rich Levine can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

WALTHAM, Mass. – When it comes to NBA standings, no Celtic pays closer attention to it than Isaiah Thomas.
 
But the 5-foot-9 All-Star is quick to say that while he’s aware of what’s happening with other teams record-wise, Thomas, like his teammates, isn’t obsessed with it, even with the Celtics (48-26) now in first place in the East following Cleveland’s loss at San Antonio on Monday.
 
“It’s a good feeling,” Thomas said. “It’s still not the end of the year; anything can happen. It’s a nice feeling to be the number one seed for once, but we just have to continue to control what we can control.”

The fact that Boston is even in position to finish with the best record in the East is amazing when you consider injuries and illnesses have forced them to use 13 different starting lineups this season.
 
And the preferred starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson has played together 31 times and posted an impressive 24-7 record.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been consistent in his message that while having the best record in the East is nice, he’s more consumed with the team continuing to improve.
 
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot right now,” Stevens said of being in first place. “The whole idea is to make progress, get better every day and stay in the moment. You do that if you’re in last place trying to build up or whether you’re in a position where you’re fighting for seeding. Ultimately, we’ve been able to grow and get a little bit better. But I still think we can play a lot better. That’s where my focus is.”
 
And the same holds true for his players. Thomas knows how unusual this season has been for the Celtics, who continue finding ways to win despite frequently being short-handed.
 
The latest example of that involves forward Jonas Jerebko, who is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee because of a sore left knee that limited him in Tuesday’s practice.
 
“It’s a long season. A lot of things can happen whether they be good or bad and we know that,” Thomas said. “We just try to withstand the storm we’ve had a few times this year, and continue to try and stay as positive as possible and we’ve done that. We’re in a good position right now. We just have to continue to take care of business.”
  
And that means steadily improving while piling up the wins, particularly against teams such as the Bucks (37-36), who are among a handful of teams that could potentially be Boston’s first-round opponent.
 
Milwaukee comes in having won 11 of its past 14 games.

“It makes the game that much more important,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “Just like the Miami game. We want to let the teams know now, they go up against us in the playoffs, it’s no mercy. We’re going to play hard. We’re going to bring it every single night. We’re going to play Celtics basketball every single night. Them knowing that, we can scare a lot of teams if we’re playing the right way.”

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics have spent most of this season playing short-handed and Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee will potentially be another one of those games.
 
Veteran forward Jonas Jerebko has a sore left knee and is considered questionable for the Bucks’ game.
 
“Jonas went through about half of [Tuesday’s] practice,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
 
Jerebko has missed two games this season due to illness.
 
Because of Milwaukee’s length at seemingly every position, Jerebko’s ability to play both forward positions will be something the Celtics will surely miss if he’s unable to play.
 
This season, Jerebko has appeared in 69 games while averaging 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 35.0 percent on 3’s.