Jan 27, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) drives to the hoop against Boston Celtics power forward Jeff Green (8) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Matchup To Watch For: LeBron James vs Jeff Green

Five years ago the NBA’s premier matchup in the Eastern Conference was Paul Pierce versus LeBron James, as both would play their best against each other. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals of 2008 became historical as both James and Pierce went back and forth hitting shots over one another. But today is March 18th 2013, and a new player who is young and athletic enough to keep up with one of, if not the best player in the game today has emerged. His name is Jeff Green.

In their last meeting, the Boston Celtics found out that Rajon Rondo had torn his ACL and that he would not return this season. In that game Jeff Green was given the job to cover LeBron James, who not many players can stop or at best slow down. However, in stretches during the game, especially in overtime, Green stayed in front of James not allowing him to drive to the hoop, and forced him to take contested jump shots. Tonight, Doc Rivers should consider going back to that matchup.

Green has played terrific the last few months, and even though he only scored 9 points against the Heat on January 27th, his defense made all the difference. His confidence in himself is at a much higher level and when he gets into a rhythm early in games, he becomes a very dangerous player on both ends of the court. With Paul Pierce aging and losing a few steps on defense, it would be wise to have the younger Jeff Green slow down the Iron Horse known as LeBron James.

As big of an impact as Green has on defense, offensively, he could cause some nightmares for the Heat’s defense. Because of his length, Green can get over the top on anyone, and I wouldn’t put it past him if he somehow got a few running layups over LeBron.

Kevin Garnett will not be playing tonight which means Green will be getting the start at power forward. It all depends on how the Heat match-up, but I’d venture to say that Green will be seeing some time covering LeBron at some point, and in that period of time is when his presence on the floor is crucial.

It’s going to be a great game even without Garnett. This could very well be a playoff preview in the Semi or Conference Finals depending on seeding. A win tonight would be huge for Boston, and history is on their side. The Miami Heat haven’t beaten Boston in the regular season at the TD Garden since 2007, and hopefully it remains that way.

 

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