BOSTON Kevin Garnett has been in Jeff Green's corner from the very beginning of his basketball odyssey with the Boston Celtics, and remains one of his biggest supporters.
But knowing Green's low-key demeanor and how demanding Doc Rivers can be to all his players - but especially those with better-than-average skills like Green - Garnett had some concerns about how things would play out.
"We're encouraging him (Green) to be aggressive," Garnett said. "Doc's on his ass about being more aggressive. Early on, I didn't know if he could handle it. But I think he's fallen right into that."
Indeed, the Celtics' recent stretch of adversity seems to have unleashed the kind of aggression and consistent play in Green that the C's have been longing for him to provide all season.
And while there have been many who have stepped up since the C's learned that they would be without Rajon Rondo (torn right ACL) and Jared Sullinger (lumbar back surgery) for the rest of the season, it's hard to look at the C's ability to withstand those setbacks and not gravitate towards Green's play as being a key in the C's still finding ways to win games.
Green is delivering his usual batch of highlight-worthy dunks, like the fourth quarter jam on Orlando's Nikola Vucevic in Boston's 97-84 win on Friday.
Green also led all scorers with 17 points off the bench.
More important than the points, was the purpose that Green seemed to play with from the moment he stepped on the court.
"We're spreading the floor for him which helps, too," Rivers said. "But he's just been aggressive. We're getting the ball to him in the open court, which I think is really important for him because of his speed. The defense can't set, and it gets him to the rim, which is good."
It certainly has been of late for Green.
His 17 points on Friday was his fourth straight double-digit scoring game, a first for him since coming to Boston from Oklahoma City via trade in 2011.
Green acknowledged that there has been a more conscious effort on his part lately to get the ball in the open floor and attack teams.
"I don't want to try to set up every time," Green said. "I want to push the ball. Doc wants a fast paced game."
And that seems to play right into one of Green's strengths which is his ability to get up and down the floor quicker than many teams can set up defensively.
"Throughout all of this, it's kind of giving him some openings to where he can be free," Garnett said. "With the consolidation of the responsibilities, he's picking up some of that himself, being aggressive ... we're going to need that from him."
Boston's Paul Pierce echoed those sentiments following Friday's win.
"He's been very aggressive; he's getting easy baskets out on the break. He's been attacking the rim in the half court and that's the Jeff we pretty much envisioned you know, coming into the season," Pierce said. "We are doing a good job of finding him in his spots. And he's taking his time and really getting the job done."