By A.Sherrod Blakely
WALTHAM Jeff Green had six points in Boston's 97-81 Game 3 win over the Miami Heat.
But if you didn't know that, you would have thought he went for 20 and 10 based on how coach Doc Rivers gushed about his performance.
Rivers would love for Green to put up those kind of scoring and rebounding numbers. But on this team, Green has a role . . . and that's not it.
He's a backup the Celtics are counting on to provide solid defense, some rebounds and, maybe most importantly, some stability to a second unit that has been inconsistent throughout this series.
The C's got all that and then some from Green in Boston's Game 3 victory.
They'll need a similar effort to even up this best-of-seven series in Game 4 on Monday.
"You know," Rivers said, "maybe for the first time in his career he was as valuable as he's ever been at any point in his career without scoring."
Green was part of a Celtics' defensive effort that limited LeBron James to just 15 points on 6-for-16 shooting from the field.
Being able to contribute in other ways besides scoring is something Green says he's more than comfortable with doing.
"That's our job with the second unit," Green said. "Try to force deflections, take charges rebound, get in the open court and just make plays."
Said Rivers: "He scored a couple points. But his defense, his pressure, getting up, his deflections . . . that's the Jeff Green we want to see every night. He has to keep doing that."
Kevin Garnett played 38 minutes in Game 3, which included a stretch in which he played the entire third quarter -- something Rivers has been reluctant to do in past years.
Rivers said the fact that Garnett played so many minutes - he only had one game this season in which he played more - didn't really concern him.
"With him, the minutes in a row can be dangerous," Rivers said. "We stuck with it. It was a gamble that I don't like to take."
Rivers didn't really have much of a choice, especially the way Garnett was playing and how Garnett's backup, Glen Davis, has struggled throughout this series.
The decision to give Garnett extended minutes had nothing to do with Davis, Rivers said.
"It was more to do with how Kevin was rolling," Rivers said. "I'm thinking, 'How am I going to take him out now?' "
Along with Rajon Rondo's injury (dislocated left elbow), Ray Allen had foul trouble and Paul Pierce was being double-teamed.
That left Garnett, one of the NBA's all-time leading scorers, basically carrying the offensive load for the Celtics.
"The decision was made almost by the situation," Rivers said.
Even after it has been played and replayed countless times in the last 24 hours, Doc Rivers still can't bring himself to see the gruesome left elbow injury suffered by Rajon Rondo through its entirety.
In the third quarter, Rondo and Miami's Dwyane Wade got tangled up and Rondo suffered a dislocated left elbow, which has led to some in Celtics Nation believing that Wade had intended to hurt Rondo.
Rivers isn't buying that theory.
"It was a hard foul," Rivers said. "Let's put it like this. He didn't intend to hurt Rondo. I honestly don't believe in 99 percent cases in our league, a player never intends to hurt anybody, but he did. It just happens."