By Jessica Camerato
BOSTON - Jeff Greens role within the Boston Celtics system has been questioned since he was traded to the team in February.
Would he be used as a small forward or an undersized power forward? Would he back up Paul Pierce or play with the starters? Where would he fit in?
Maybe there is no definitive answer - and thats okay. On Sunday night against the New York Knicks he proved his most important role was to be a contributor.
With the Celtics fighting to overcome a lingering deficit, Green hit a go-ahead jumper from Delonte West three minutes into the fourth quarter to give the Cs a 66-64 lead. Even though Green only scored four points, that shot capped off a 7-0 run and gave the Celtics the momentum they needed to earn a come-from-behind victory in Game One.
It was big, just from a team standpoint for me to help my team, he said following the 87-85 win. In order for me to make that shot, it was just a regular shot, Delonte put it right on the money. It was great when you can help your team get a lead, especially coming off the bench, keep the lead, and get it ready for your starters to come back in.
Doc Rivers had been preparing Green for a moment like this in the days leading up to the playoffs. He had Green practice with different lineups to give him more repetitions and better familiarity with the offense.
Green wanted to hone in on his versatility, whether it was stretching the floor at the four-spot or guarding several positions on defense. He was playing power forward in an undersized lineup when he hit the go-ahead shot.
Practices were great, very competitive. Thats what youve got to do to get ready for this, Green said. The rhythm and knowing the spots that Im going to get the ball helps. Hes putting me in great positions to succeed in this system and hopefully it continues to work.
Down 0-1 to the Celtics, Carmelo Anthony still likes the Knicks chances in this first round series. Instead of being discouraged by their last-second loss, he was optimistic about the upcoming games.
Were very confident, he said. Were a team that is going to look at this game and build off it. Guys in the locker room, it isnt like guys heads are down or anything like that. Guys are actually excited about Game Two coming up. We feel like weve got a chance to win Game Two with the energy level were going to come in here with.
Anthony was limited by early foul trouble. He posted 15 points (518 FG, 28 3PG), four rebounds, and four assists in 34 minutes.
It has been almost two months since Kendrick Perkins was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. And two months later, Doc Rivers still expects to hear about it.
Following the Celtics' win, in which Jermaine ONeal posted 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots but Shaquille ONeal was unable to play, Rivers was asked about the center position since the trade.
I think our team was fine today, he responded. But outside, its going to keep getting talked about. Perk will probably have 20 and 20 in the game tonight against the Denver Nuggets, and itll start all over again. And I actually hope it does -- it would be great for him. At the end of the day, this is who we are, this is who we have. And were fine. Were ready.
Bill Walker enjoyed practices when he was a member of the Boston Celtics. That was his opportunity to go up against Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, two veterans whose games he admired.
A year after being traded from the Celtics to the New York Knicks, Walker had another chance to go up against them. This time, it was in Game One of the first round of the playoffs.
When Carmelo Anthony picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game, Walker checked in off the bench and attacked. He scored all seven of his points (35 FG, 11 3PG) during a five-minute stretch in the first quarter.
I expect to play. I dont think any NBA player expects to be sitting on the bench watching the game, he said. Thats not what we get paid for. So I was expecting to come in and play, and thats what happened.
Walker exemplified the defensive tenacity that was preached to him during his time with the Celtics. He fought for loose balls, contested shots, and pestered his opponents. Walker knew how hard he was going to have to fight when he stepped on to the court against his former teammates.
I knew the challenge that I had to face and once you do that, youve just got to go in there and compete with them, he said. I like challenges, man. Who wants the easy way out?