Rivers hopes Jeff Green can fill Posey role

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Rivers hopes Jeff Green can fill Posey role

By: Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES When the Celtics lost James Posey to free agency after the 2008 season, they lost a huge piece to their championship puzzle, and in the two and a half years since, have struggled to fill the void left by Posey's departure.

Essentially, a sizable swing man with range, versatility and a defensive pedigree. Tony Allen and Marquis Daniels both took their shots, but both ultimately failed.

And while the newly acquired Jeff Green is not Posey, Doc Rivers thinks that Green is the closest thing that the Celtics have had since, and that the 6-9 swingman will give the team a level of flexibility that theyve lacked in Poseys absence.

This gives us the ability to do what we did the year we won, Rivers said of the trade for the four-year vet, and that is we can go small with Green at four and Kevin at five, and then Paul and Ray. And it spreads the floor. Weve been trying to get that lineup since Posey left. I cant tell you how many times we did that in the playoffs. Every fourth quarter. Weve havent been able to duplicate that, and in some ways thats hurt Rondo.

Of course, the biggest issue when comparing Posey and Green is on the defensive end. Other than KG, Posey was the toughest and most versatile defender the Celtics had that season. Meanwhile, Green doesnt come to Boston with the greatest defensive reputation. But Rivers, whose son played a season with a Green at Georgetown, is familiar with the newest Celtics game, and feels optimistic about his ability to fill a Posey-like role.

To which the obvious question is: Can he hang with LeBron, Kobe, Carmelo and the other big scoring swing men the Cs will likely face on their path to another title?

Well, do you feel comfortable with anyone guarding Melo or Lebron? Rivers asked. Ive seen enough (of Green). In Oklahoma he switched on ones, twos and threes in pick and roll coverage. I know hell want to (cover those guys). With our defensive schemes were going to have to help him guard those guys. Everyone has to help.

Thats on the court, off the court, Rivers expects Green (and also Nenad Krstic) to be just as valuable.

Theyre really high character guys, he said. I talked to (Oklahoma City coach) Scot Brooks) for a while today, and that was basically his concern, losing two high character guys.

But Rivers admits that the two have big shoes to fill.

Although with Perk, he said, he might be the best character guy in the league. But you just dont know fit. You dont know guy until you coach guys. So well find that out."

He'll also find out if this new found potential to be more creative with his rotation will offset what was lost in the deal with Oklahoma City.

"I see a lot of line ups," Rivers said, "but you always see a lot of lineups until you start coaching them. But you see a huge lineup with Shaq, Kevin, Paul, Jeff Green and Rondo. You see one with Baby at the five and Jeff at the four, but you dont know until you try them out."

That try out comes Saturday night at Staples Center.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

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.