Rivers hopes Jeff Green can fill Posey role

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Rivers hopes Jeff Green can fill Posey role

By: Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES When the Celtics lost James Posey to free agency after the 2008 season, they lost a huge piece to their championship puzzle, and in the two and a half years since, have struggled to fill the void left by Posey's departure.

Essentially, a sizable swing man with range, versatility and a defensive pedigree. Tony Allen and Marquis Daniels both took their shots, but both ultimately failed.

And while the newly acquired Jeff Green is not Posey, Doc Rivers thinks that Green is the closest thing that the Celtics have had since, and that the 6-9 swingman will give the team a level of flexibility that theyve lacked in Poseys absence.

This gives us the ability to do what we did the year we won, Rivers said of the trade for the four-year vet, and that is we can go small with Green at four and Kevin at five, and then Paul and Ray. And it spreads the floor. Weve been trying to get that lineup since Posey left. I cant tell you how many times we did that in the playoffs. Every fourth quarter. Weve havent been able to duplicate that, and in some ways thats hurt Rondo.

Of course, the biggest issue when comparing Posey and Green is on the defensive end. Other than KG, Posey was the toughest and most versatile defender the Celtics had that season. Meanwhile, Green doesnt come to Boston with the greatest defensive reputation. But Rivers, whose son played a season with a Green at Georgetown, is familiar with the newest Celtics game, and feels optimistic about his ability to fill a Posey-like role.

To which the obvious question is: Can he hang with LeBron, Kobe, Carmelo and the other big scoring swing men the Cs will likely face on their path to another title?

Well, do you feel comfortable with anyone guarding Melo or Lebron? Rivers asked. Ive seen enough (of Green). In Oklahoma he switched on ones, twos and threes in pick and roll coverage. I know hell want to (cover those guys). With our defensive schemes were going to have to help him guard those guys. Everyone has to help.

Thats on the court, off the court, Rivers expects Green (and also Nenad Krstic) to be just as valuable.

Theyre really high character guys, he said. I talked to (Oklahoma City coach) Scot Brooks) for a while today, and that was basically his concern, losing two high character guys.

But Rivers admits that the two have big shoes to fill.

Although with Perk, he said, he might be the best character guy in the league. But you just dont know fit. You dont know guy until you coach guys. So well find that out."

He'll also find out if this new found potential to be more creative with his rotation will offset what was lost in the deal with Oklahoma City.

"I see a lot of line ups," Rivers said, "but you always see a lot of lineups until you start coaching them. But you see a huge lineup with Shaq, Kevin, Paul, Jeff Green and Rondo. You see one with Baby at the five and Jeff at the four, but you dont know until you try them out."

That try out comes Saturday night at Staples Center.

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

Chris Mannix: 'Great chance' Celtics capture No. 1 seed

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Chris Mannix: 'Great chance' Celtics capture No. 1 seed

Chris Mannix discusses the Boston Celtics chances of sealing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and which low-seed team will give them the most problems in the playoffs.

Kelly Olynyk's 3-point game is helping him produce all over floor

Kelly Olynyk's 3-point game is helping him produce all over floor

Waltham, mass. – Kelly Olynyk is in a good place right now. 

He’s playing a key role on one of the top teams in the NBA, doing more than just stretch the floor with long-range jumpers and 3-pointers. He has been a solid positional defender most of his time in the NBA, but lately he has become one of the team’s best rebounders … really!

But more than anything, Olynyk is in the best shape of his career both mentally and physically, delivering strong play in several categories.

“When he plays aggressive and with confidence, that’s when he’s at his best,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. 

And lately, the best of Olynyk has been in steady rotation for the Celtics who will host the Phoenix Suns tonight. 

Olynyk attributes his recent strong play to seizing his opportunity to help the Celtics in what has been a season-long area of weakness. The fourth-year big man is a threat to score from 3-point range whenever he’s on the floor. Because of that, teams are overly concerned about his long-range shooting which has allowed him to be an effective driver into the paint and finisher around the rim. 

He has also benefited by being healthy, something he could not say was the case on the eve of the Celtics’ postseason run last season which ended in the second round to the Atlanta Hawks. Olynyk was hampered by a sore right shoulder injury that limited him in the playoffs against Atlanta, and later required surgery which sidelined him for the start of this season. 

But those pain-filled days where he gave more thought to his shoulder rather than shouldering a greater load for the Celtics, are behind him now. 

“It’s something that I had to deal with and I had to get surgery,” Olynyk said. “Now it feels better than it has. I feel strong, confident, ready to roll.”

Boston has won five of its last six games, and the play of Olynyk off the bench has been among the reasons for the team’s latest run of success. In those six games, Olynyk has averaged 10.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting a team-high 64.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from 3-point range in 20.5 minutes per game – all better than his season average in those respective categories. 

And among Celtics players who have averaged double-digit minutes in that span, Olynyk has a team-best rebounding percentage of .170 in addition to an effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) of .689 which is also tops among Boston players during their last six games.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens isn’t surprised to see Olynyk playing as well as he has now that he’s injury-free.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important than playing with clear minds and fresh legs,” Stevens said. “I just think that, and not being injured is a big part of that.”

For Olynyk, part of the challenge he has had since coming to the NBA was finding that balance between being aggressive and assertive, while making sure he got teammates involved when the opportunity presents itself.

“There’s definitely a fine line between being aggressive, forcing things, over-aggressive and create and open things up for others,” Olynyk said. “It’s kind of a balance, kind of like a yin and yang; just go out and play basketball the way you know how to play it. That’s what’s going to make you the best version of yourself and your team the best version they can be.”

Olynyk’s teammates encourage him often (Avery Bradley and Thomas are probably the two most consistent in his ear) to be more assertive, but they recognize he tends to be hesitant far too often for a player with his skillset.

“When he’s second-guessing and … shot-faking when he should have shot, just not being the aggressive player that we need him to be … we don’t need him to be like that,” said Thomas. “We believe in him. He just has to remain confident at all times. When he’s confident and aggressive, he’s a hell of a player.”