It's not easy being Green

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It's not easy being Green

By Michael Felger

My world, as defined by standard dialogue with my peers.

Comcast basketball analyst prior to Thursday:

"Watch the games, Felger. When the starting five of Rondo, Pierce, Allen, Garnett and Perkins is healthy, the Celtics are the team to beat. You just don't know basketball."

Comcast basketball analyst shortly after 3 p.m. last Thursday:

"Check that. What we meant to say was that they'll be the team to beat if they get rid of their starting center and bring in a backup swing man."

Green Teamer last Thursday morning:

"Defense wins championships, you DB. Forget what Perk does offensively. The Celts don't need it. When you focus on his offensive deficiencies, you just prove how ignorant you are when it comes to the NBA."

Green Teamer at 3:02 that afternoon:

"Well, it's obvious that Perk is a liability on offense. Can't catch. Can't finish. Puts the ball on the floor. Why do you think Big Baby finishes games? Perk's offense was killing them."

Gary Tanguay, Greg Dickerson, Cedric Maxwell, et al, at any time from 2008 through 2010:

"Shaquille O'Neal is washed up, Felger. Out of shape. Can't stay healthy. More concerned with reality shows than winning games. He brought Phoenix down. He got in the way of LeBron in Cleveland. The Cavs were actually better off when he was on the bench. Can't you see that, Mr. Basketball? The Celtics are about 'team.' Not individuals. Ubuntu. Not that you would know anything about that."

Dicker-guay on Aug. 4, the day the C's signed O'Neal:

"This signing makes sense only because Shaq is going to be a role player. It's not his team. It's not even his position. He's going to have to accept playing behind Perk. That's why it will work."

Max-erson on Thursday afternoon:

"Who needs Perk. We've got Shaq."

Wyc Grousbeck (through the lips of any given Celtics analyst) all summer:

"If we had Perk for Game Seven in L.A. last year we would have had Banner 18."

Grousbeck (through the Green Team filter) today:

"Perk's importance has been overblown that game. Derrick Fisher hit a big shot. Some calls went against us. We didn't play well as a team. Perk wouldn't have made a difference. But our new backup wing player will."

Green Teamer all season:

"LeBron and the Heat don't scare us, you idiot. We've beaten him all three times this year. He's never beaten us in the playoffs. Why would we worry about him?"

Green Teamer following the Carmelo Anthony trade to the Knicks last week:

"Interesting move, but the Knicks are a long way from being a threat. No single perimeter player can beat us."

Green Teamer today:

"Jeff Green gives us something we haven't had since James Posey was here. We miss Tony Allen. Look at the matchups. You have to get out of the East before you get to the Finals. Pierce needs help defending Carmelo and LeBron. And don't forget Turkoglu and Joe Johnson. This was our biggest need."

Doc Rivers to Kobe Bryant on August 23:

"The Lakers still have not beaten our starting five. Our starting five against the Lakers starting five has a ring. Tell him dont forget that. We will be back strong and Perk will be there next year if theres a Game Seven."

Doc today:

"Um . . . Ah . . . Well . . . "

Dickerson this morning:

"I've got that dry cleaning for you, Doc. I'll have it over just as soon as drop Danny's off."

Tanguay this morning:

"Great trade, Wyc. I should be done waxing your car by this afternoon."

Max this morning:

"How are the Bruins working out for you, Felger? Enjoy the first round!"

Like I said: My world.

E-mail Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursday. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.

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But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.

Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.

And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.

Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.

The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6). 

And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.

“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”

Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.

Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.

“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”

And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.

Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.

“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth-quarter performance

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth-quarter performance

The pressure that comes with a tight game in the fourth quarter can be a weighty proposition for some NBA players.

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Then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who continues to save his best work for the fourth quarter.

Saturday’s 107-106 win at Philadelphia had yet another Thomas-like finish for the Celtics as the 5-foot-9 guard was at his most dominant state in the game’s final minutes.

Thomas finished with a season high-tying 37 points which included a stretch in the fourth in which he scored 12 straight.

“I just love the fourth quarter,” Thomas told reporters following the win. “I just want to win. Whether it’s making plays for myself or making plays for my teammates, it’s about making the right play. I get ultra- aggressive in that fourth quarter. That’s what I’ve always done.”

And his teammates appreciate how Thomas elevates his play in the game’s most pivotal moments.

“A lot of the credit is to Isaiah, how he was able to finish the game tonight,” said Avery Bradley. “He was able to make shots when we needed him to.”

And while Thomas knows his shots won’t fall all the time down the stretch, his fourth quarter mentality does provide him with a level of confidence that no matter what the defense does to him or what the score may be, he can swing the game’s momentum in his team’s favor.

“Some guys get a little tight, they get a little timid (in the fourth quarter),” Thomas said. “I embrace it. I want to be great. I want to be somebody my teammates can call on when the game is close.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday night’s game.

STARS

Isaiah Thomas: There was no more dominant player on Saturday night than Thomas. He finished with a game-high 37 points along with seven assists.

Dario Saric: It was a breakout game for the 22-year-old rookie who led the Sixers with 21 points as well as 12 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Both his points and rebound totals tied his career highs in those categories.

STUDS

Avery Bradley: Boston’s surge towards victory did not kick in until the third quarter which is when Bradley elevated his play offensively. In the third he scored 10 of his 20 points on the night, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.

Ersan Illyasova: He finished with 18 points which included a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds of the game. He also grabbed six rebounds and two assists.

DUDS

Celtics first half defense: There wasn’t much to like about Boston defensively in the first half. The Celtics struggled to take away or limit Philadelphia’s only strength Saturday night which was three-point shooting. The Sixers nailed nine of their 18 three-point attempts in the first half in addition to hurting the Celtics’ transition defense which gave up seven fast-break points to Philly compared to Boston scoring just one point in transition.