Boston Celtics

Green putting it all together

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Green putting it all together

ALBANY, NY Jeff Green has goals this season that go beyond simply returning to action after missing all of last season following heart surgery.

While much of his offensive play thus far in the preseason has been praised, the 6-foot-9 forward is focused on leaving his imprint on the defensive side of the ball.

Saturday was certainly a step in that direction with Green's defense being one of the keys to fueling Boston's 109-98 come-from-behind win.

"That's my calling," Green said of his defense. "I have to be a guy who can go out there and guard the best player on the opposite team. Whether it's Carmelo (Anthony of the New York Knicks), LeBron (James of the Miami Heat), Kevin Durant (of Oklahoma City), Kobe Bryant (of the Los Angeles Lakers), whether it's a big, doesn't matter. I see myself as being one of the top defensive players in this league. I just have to go out there and prove it."

Green's versatility as a defender was on display Saturday night, as he took turns guarding smaller players like Mychel Thompson or bigs such as Chris Copeland.

"Jeff is so talented athletically, explosive," said Boston's Rajon Rondo. "We expect a lot out of Jeff, and he's accepted the challenge."

While that may be the case now, it certainly wasn't when he arrived via trade from Oklahoma City in 2011.

Green seemed to struggle finding his niche with the C's, something Doc Rivers attributes in part to him being surrounded by a slew of future Hall of Famers and current all-stars.

"It's hard to be aggressive on our team," Rivers said. "When you're new, you see Kevin (Garnett) next to you, and Rondo you almost feel like you shouldn't be aggressive. Every new guy that has come to our team, even veterans have had that problem."

Although having an aggressive mindset is a plus, it's not a necessity in Rivers' eyes.

"Sometimes that's just not who you are; you are a player that defers," Rivers said. "That's not all bad, either. As good as Jeff Green is, sometimes he falls into that category when he defers to the other guys. We're trying to convince him at times he's the best player on the floor. Because Jeff's so team-oriented, I don't think he sees himself that way but we do."

Unleashing that aggressive side is a lot easier on nights like Saturday when both Paul Pierce and Garnett were given the night off.

So it should have come as no surprise that two of the C's most aggressive players were rookie Kris Joseph (13 points) and Green who both saw more minutes than usual because of Pierce's absence.

When Green inked a four-year, 36 million contract to return to Boston, he repeatedly said that his level of aggression would not be an issue.

So far, he's kept his word.

"If I'm aggressive, it opens up everything for them; plain and simple," Green said. "I just have to go out there and take my turn. When the ball comes my way, make a play; make a play for my teammates."

We expect greatness out of everyone and Jeff has the tools. I wouldn't push a guy who doesn't have any talent. I would encourage him but the way I'm on Jeff, Courtney (Lee), Jared (Sullinger), I expect a lot from those guys and they're going to be big for us. It may seem like I'm on them all the time, but like I said gotta get those guys to jump on board and expect and demand greatness every night."

Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

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Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

Gordon Hayward wanted to go to Boston to play with Isaiah Thomas.

Of course, that's not going to happen. The Celtics traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a package for Kyrie Irving. Hayward explained what it was like for him to learn he and Thomas would not get the chance to hit the court together in Celtics' green.

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"My first reaction was to text I.T., and wish him the best," Hayward wrote in a blog post which he published Thursday. "That was a really strange moment because I’d really been looking forward to playing with him. He didn’t just help recruit me to Boston—he was a big piece of that recruitment. He had talked a lot about city and how it was different to be a Celtic. He talked about the intensity of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing at the Garden in the playoffs, and how much fun it was, and how much fun he had playing in Boston.

"All of that ultimately helped win me over. And by the time of the trade, I had already started to build a little bit of a relationship with him.

"But that is just how the business works. I have spent enough years in the NBA to realize that things can change like that, in an instant. Still, even though we didn’t necessarily get to be teammates, I’m definitely going to be watching him as a fan. In this league, I think we are all rooting for each other in some way or another—just to try to stay healthy, to try to be the best we can be."

Hayward may be genuine about rooting for Thomas -- except perhaps when he faces off against the Cavaliers in the season-opener on Oct. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena. Thomas is uncertain to play due to a hip injury. But the two teams are expected to see each other in the Eastern Conference Finals again after the 2017-18 season. This preview will be an opportunity for Thomas and Irving to get their first shot at revenge against their previous team.

The trade wasn't all bad for Hayward, he explained. He was pleased at the prospect of playing with Irving. Hayward cited Irving's abilities in 1-on-1 situations and clutch moments. He appreciated Irving's scoring ability, because Hayward knows the point guard will open up space for Hayward to knock down open shots. Above all, Hayward seemed to value Irving's unique experience.

"And then getting a chance to play with LeBron James, and going to the Finals three straight years—those are experiences that are invaluable and that you really can’t teach," Hayward wrote. "Having that experience of playing in those big moments, dealing with the circus of the media, dealing with expectations, those are all things that I think he can help us with. Because most of us, myself especially, have never been through that."

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