Green still adapting to go-to role for Celtics

Green still adapting to go-to role for Celtics
January 21, 2014, 12:00 am
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MIAMI — Within seconds of tip-off in Boston's 93-91 loss at Orlando on Sunday, Jeff Green was on the scoreboard with a jump hook in the lane that looked like a lot of Green's baskets -- effortless.

A couple minutes later, he displayed the long-range shooting touch that makes him a defensive nightmare for many teams.

And when the game was on the line, the Celtics were looking for Green to make a play either as a scorer or facilitator.

When Orlando's defense cut off Green's driving lane, he passed to Avery Bradley who fumbled the pass, and was unable to get a shot off before time expired.

But prior to the disappointing finish, there was a moment during that final possession in which Green had a look, a good one, at a jumper. However, he  decided to instead dribble closer to the rim for what he hoped would be an even better shot attempt. Eventually he passed the ball to Bradley.

That moment of decision -- to shoot, keep dribbling or pass -- is just one of the many adjustments a career role player like Green thrust into a go-to guy position must adapt to.

When he was in Seattle and Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant would have been the one making that decision. After the trade to Boston, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Rajon Rondo would have had the ball in their hands at that time.

So as much as Green takes heat -- pun totally intended -- for not being more consistent, part of his issue deals with adjusting to a role he has never been asked to play before at this level.

Aware of the pressure, Green acknowledges that there have been times when he has given too much thought to being a go-to guy and not paid enough attention to just playing his game.

"You're not used to that role," Green told Comcast SportsNet's Abby Chin. "You think, you put so much attention towards being the go-to guy and trying to do extra for your team that you forget what got you to that point. And I find myself also pressing at times to make plays for myself. Forcing the issue. When my shot's not going, I get down because I'm letting people down, but you know. I think I just need to change my point of view, my focus, and just play my game."

He did on Sunday, blending in drives to the basket, mid-range jumpers and three-pointers that kept the Magic off balance most of the night.

Defending him most of the game was Arron Afflalo who, like Green, has had to get adjusted to being more of a go-to player.

"It's tough," Afflalo told "But it's what you want as an NBA player. You want your teammates to look to you, to be that guy. But the main thing is . . .  stick to what you do best or what you do well and just try and be consistent."

And therein lies the biggest knock on Green, who leads the Celtics in scoring this season with a 15.8 points per game average. He has been consistently inconsistent as a Celtic, blending in freeze frames of greatness with blurry images of inexplicable inconsistency that has created snapshots better known to most as "Good Jeff" and "Bad Jeff."

While Green still meanders his way through the ups and downs of being such a central figure now, he should be aided by the return of Rajon Rondo.

"I think he'll take a lot of the pressure off with his play-making ability and his detail to the game and what he brings to the game," Green said of Rondo. "I think he takes a lot of pressure off me as far as trying to be the all-around player that everybody wants me to be. I think I just need to focus on what I'm good at and that's just trying to make plays for myself and trying to go out there and rebound and play hard and run the floor."

Doing those things will certainly help the Celtics as well as Green going forward.

"It'll come," Green said. "It's just something that I'm adjusting to."