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

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

BOSTON -- On more than one occasion Monday night, the Boston Celtics were a discombobulated bunch with some players thinking they were running one play, while others were thinking the play called was something totally different.
 
You see that stuff in the preseason and to a certain extent in the regular season for a lot of teams. It is in those moments that we’re reminded that this Boston Celtics team is a work in progress on so many levels.
 
Because of that, we all need to hit the pause button when talking about them as a team inching closer towards Eastern Conference supremacy.
 
After the first month of the season, they have yet to show that they are going to be better than last season’s 48-win ball club.
 
The big problem a year ago was the offense bogging down and for the most part, not making shots. This year, it’s the team’s defense that has let them down on many nights.
 
And with that comes a sobering reminder this crew is good, but at best are maybe top-five in the East.
 
As a team on the rise, beating teams you’re not supposed to has to happen with some semblance of regularity.
 
There were only three teams on the Celtics’ docket this season thus far that they should have been beaten by without there being any argument: Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland.
 
They were beaten in all three, two of which (Golden State and Cleveland) had final scores that did not indicate the level of dominance they had over the Celtics.
 
The average margin of defeat in the three games was 9.3 points, but two of them (San Antonio and Golden State) were at the TD Garden, which is supposed to be the equalizer for upset-minded teams.
 
But in each game, Boston put up a decent fight only to fail to emerge victorious.
 
The struggles against the upper echelon teams of the NBA has nothing to do with not having a superstar or a great rebounder or any of the kazillion reasons/excuses offered up as to why they’re not better.
 
It’s hunger.
 
It’s effort.
 
It’s about being blinded by the internet clicks that tout them as one of the best teams in the East, and them not seeing the danger that comes with embracing all that patting on the back.
 
It makes you soft.
 
It makes you fat and happy.
 
And maybe most significant, it creates a false sense of arrival before you’ve left the tarmac.
 
That’s where the Boston Celtics are right now: a team that seems to have forgotten why they were the team nobody wanted to play last year.
 
It wasn’t that teams feared playing them. It was the fact that they knew playing the Celtics would be tough, and it would force them to play a lot closer to their full potential than they were used to if they wanted to win.
 
It was because everyone knew that to beat the Celtics, you don’t have a choice but to play hard because you damn well knew they would.
 
Not anymore.
 
They bring that toughness to the game in small doses, like an intra-venous drip full of hope and promise, providing just enough to life to keep their fans optimistic but not nearly enough to kill the noise of their haters and critics.
 
And while the season is still young, the Celtics need to start racking up some quality wins.
 
Right now, their most impressive win is a toss-up between beating Charlotte 104-98 on Oct. 29, or a 94-92 win at Detroit on Nov. 19.
 
Boston plays at Orlando on Wednesday, a team that’s likely to be back in the lottery again. But after that, they travel back to Boston where they’ll host Toronto -- a game that they desperately need to not only to pad their win total but also provide a much-needed boost of energy and confidence going forward.

The Celtics have to find that hunger, that collective desire that we’ve seen in the past which has propelled them to greater heights than we’ve seen thus far.
 
Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford… you can go down the roster and the mission for all of them has to be the same: play harder, for longer, and be smarter about it, because this team has too much collective talent to be just three games above .500.
 
At 12-9, Boston is third in the East and trail conference-leading Cleveland by three games for the best record in the conference. But then you look at the teams behind the Celtics and realize that they’re only two games out of having the ninth-best record in the East.
 
It speaks in part to the season still being in its infancy stage. But it’s also telling as to how Boston does not have a huge margin of error when it comes to losing winnable games.
 
And as we’ve seen thus far, the Celtics can play with any team in the NBA and hold their own.
 
But beating them is a totally different narrative that this squad has yet to write.