Jeff Green Creating Matchup Problems For Opponents

Since the All-Star break, Jeff Green has really come into his own and is playing with a ton of confidence on a nightly basis. In the first half of the season, Green was tentative and would only take the ball aggressively to the basket on a few occasions, and would rarely stay in that mode throughout an entire game. It’s very possible that he was still recovering from his heart surgery and gauging what his body would allow him to do. Now it’s evident that he’s fully healthy, playing at the top of his game, almost at the same level he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that he is capable of taking over games, but now he’s consistently scoring 15 to 25 points a night.

It’s not just his athletic ability that makes him an important asset to the team, but because he’s such a unique player, he’s causing matchup problems for the Celtics opponents. First let’s take a look at the game in which he scored 43 points on the Miami Heat.

No matter who was covering Green, the Miami Heat could no stop him. They tried Chris Bosh, Shane Battier, Chris Andersen, and Udonis Haslem and not one of them could even slow Green down. It wasn’t their lack of ability to play defense, or how Miami went about their overall defense, but Green’s length alone put him one level higher than his defenders.

In the highlights Green constantly went to the hoop and made the layup over a Heat player, or drew the foul with the chance of converting an old-fashioned three point play. However, Miami gave him way too much space to operate, and Green could either knock down the wide open three or drive aggressively to the basket. The Heat aren’t the only victims of Green’s length and offensive firepower. Next up is the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In this game, Cleveland did a much better job attempting to stop Jeff Green, but to no avail. Just as against the Heat, Green was outreaching and shooting over anyone who defended him. He also started attacking the basket with his left hand, which is something he didn’t do up until this week. If he can develop a driving layup on the left side he’s going to be an unstoppable force. His athletic ability alone is hard to matchup against, but adding a few weapons in his arsenal will make him a potent threat on the offensive end.

On the last play of that game, Green drove into the paint and got an uncontested layup to get the win. There may have been two defenders in the vicinity with their hands up, but they weren’t even close to swatting the ball out of Green’s hands. That’s the extension Jeff Green brings. He’s a 6’9″ power forward/small forward who creates issues for opponents on offense because he’s not a traditional forward. He’s not big enough to take on stronger power forwards, but he’s quick and long enough to take on player like Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Green really is a marvel, which makes him a special player in the league.

The latest victim was the Atlanta Hawks. Green finished with 27 points, and once again there was no one playing for Atlanta who could at least slow him down.

The biggest mistake Atlanta made was not having Josh Smith cover Green the entire night. In the highlights from last night, there is one small but subtle thing that no one has brought up. Because Green is an offensive threat, Paul Pierce has been given better looks at the basket. Pierce finished with a triple double, scoring 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. In the three games above, players who would have had to focus on Pierce, payed more attention to Green, which completely spread the floor thin for the defense.

Against Miami, Green had lanes to the basket because Pierce was on the floor at the same time. It may not seem like it now, but this duo at the forward positions is going to benefit the team heading into the playoffs, and maybe into next season. Jeff Green can extend Pierce’s career just by being on the floor. He makes the defense worry about another threat, which leaves the door wide open for the Captain.

Before the season began, many fans questioned Danny Ainge’s decision of signing Green to a 4 year $36 million contract. But since early February no one has brought up his contract once, and instead are enjoying what Green has been displaying for the past month and a half. Right now, fans are witnessing the torch being passed down from Pierce to Green. It’s a slow transition, one that might not be noticeable, but a new era is being ushered in, and one that Celtics fans should embrace with open arms.

Celtics Can Take Control Of The Series With A Win In Game 5

Well Celtics fans, here we are. The Celtics have tied the series after a nail biting win in Game 4. They took care of business at home and have a great opportunity to take control of this series. It won’t be easy, the Heat have been tough to beat when playing in Miami in this year’s playoffs. But if there is one team that can step up to the challenge, it would be the Boston Celtics.

Before I get into Game 5’s preview, I’d just like to reflect on last night’s game

In the first half, the Celtics came out so dominant, I, like most fans were wondering what team we were actually watching. They haven’t played that well, with that much energy and aggressiveness probably since 2008.

Rajon Rondo set the tone early and was beating everyone up the court in transition off missed buckets by the Heat. He was aggressive and there was no one that could stop him.

Everyone on the Celtics fulfilled their roles. Keyon Dooling came in and gave the Celtics energy, along with a few 3 point shots. Ray Allen looked the best he had all playoffs, and was a huge part of the win.

My biggest concern last night was the second half. Throughout this series, I pointed out this issue. The Celtics slowed their offense down, took jump shots instead of taking it to the rim, and looked completely out of rhythm.

What the Celtics did late in last night’s game, was very dangerous. They had the Heat put away, and like they’ve done for the past two years, they didn’t keep the foot on the gas and finish there opponent off early. Doc Rivers has to address this to the team because they’ve already lost one game in this series due to carelessness and laziness. Fortunately last night, they didn’t get burned playing with fire.

So, now looking ahead to Game 5.

The Heat are now under a lot of pressure to win this game. If they lose, they come back to Boston down 3-2. The Celtics don’t have an easier load, they have to win tomorrow or they will have to win the last 2 games to get into into the finals, and Game 7 is in Miami.

Here are my keys for a Celtics win in a pivotal Game 5.

Movement On the Offensive End

In the second half of last night’s game, the Celtics slowed down to a crawl on the offensive end. It seemed like every possession the ball would just stick in Rondo’s hands and then the offense would start moving with 10 seconds left on the shot clock. For years, I’ve heard Tommy Heinsohn’s frustration when the Celtics would bog down and milk the clock. They have to get shot attempts up early in the shot clock, but they can’t be rushed shots. For some reason, the Celtics seem to just get lazy at times and believe that they can flip the switch at any time during a game. Like I said earlier, that is a very dangerous game to play, especially against a talented Miami Heat team

Continue Rotating and Help Defense

Like in all my previews so far in this series, good help defense is key to stopping the Heat. When the Celtics just play man to man without communication, the Heat can score at will because their athleticism and youth allows them to get to the bucket before the defense can assemble.

Last night, the Celtics did an excellent job in rotating and help defense. On the last play in regulation, Pietrus came to double-team LeBron which forced him to kick the ball out to Udonis Haslem. By doing this, the Celtics probably saved their season and then pulled off the win in overtime.

Keep Pierce Out of Foul Trouble

For the second time in this series, Paul Pierce fouled out of an important game, and that almost cost them in overtime. I don’t know what the Celtics can possibly do to keep Pierce from fouling out. They could possibly play Marquis Daniels more and keep Pierce on the bench for a few extra minutes of rest. Daniels has done a lot better than most people thought when defending LeBron, and maybe continuing to go to that matchup may help them secure Game 5.

I think there is one thing we can all agree on. Pierce has to stay out of foul trouble tomorrow, or the Celtics will have to fight an up hill battle on game.

Prediction For Tomorrow Night and Rest of the Series

I’m feeling really confident after the last two games the Celtics have played at home. I think they take Game 5, but it will be very close, possibly another overtime game. If the Celtics can come away with a victory, I think this series ends in Boston, Game 6. I just don’t see Miami coming into a hostile environment and taking a huge game on the road to force a Game 7

If the Celtics do in fact lose, I say the Heat win in 7. I don’t see the Celtics walking into Miami, in Game 7 and winning, but I hope I’m wrong.

Tomorrow is a huge game, it could possibly make or break our title hopes for this season.

So I say once more; Let’s go Celtics and beat the Heat!