Celtics - Hawks preview: Green picks up scoring

Celtics - Hawks preview: Green picks up scoring
February 26, 2014, 12:00 pm
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BOSTON — The Boston Celtics return home, still licking their wounds from a winless West coast trip.

While there's not a lot of optimism going forward because of all the losses, the Celtics can certainly take some positives out of the play of Jeff Green.

The much-maligned small forward has scored 21 or more points in each of the last three games, a first for him this season.

A big part of Green's improved scoring has been his aggressiveness at getting to the rim and not settling so much for jumpers.

In the last three games, he has averaged 8.7 free throw attempts per game. For the rest of the season, he has averaged just 4.5 free throws per game.

Green acknowledges that asserting himself more offensively has been a key to his improved scoring.

"I just have to continue being aggressive and look for my shot," Green told reporters after the team's loss at Utah on Monday. "Try to get to the free throw line, get easy looks to the rim; try to make teams play me. When they do, it opens up other guys."

And while Green is aware that his scoring of late has been on the rise, he is also acutely aware that the same cannot be said for the Celtics' success; or rather lack of success.

"I'd rather win," Green said. "Winning is more important than stats to me."

Here are some other keys to tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With so many of the Atlanta Hawks' top bigs out with injuries, the Celtics will look to establish a strong presence in the post early and often. That means getting the ball into the hands of Brandon Bass and Jeff Green who will each have favorable matchups around the basket.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo vs Jeff Teague

Rajon Rondo continues to improve, but has yet to have that signature, breakout-type game. Teague is one of the more underrated point guards in the NBA, but has certainly turned a few heads of late by averaging 27 points and 6.5 assists in Atlanta's last two games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:  Jerryd Bayless has played at least 30 minutes in each of Boston's last two games. To his credit, Bayless has made the most of his increased playing time by averaging 14.5 points off the bench while shooting 48 percent from the field.

STAT TO TRACK: Second-chance points have been few and far between of late for the Atlanta Hawks during their last 10 games, nine of which ended with a loss. During that span, Atlanta has averaged a league-low 8.5 second chance points per game. Meanwhile, the Celtics have been decent in the same span in allowing opponents 12.6 second-chance points which is tied for the 10th-lowest average per game.