May 1, 2011; Miami, FL, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green (8) shoots over Miami Heat center Joel Anthony (50) during the second half of game one of the second round of the 2011NBA playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Heat won 99-90. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
After the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jeff Green was under the pressure of not only living up to the hype, but he wasn’t widely welcomed by the Celtics fan base. Understandably so, fans were upset with the loss of Perkins, and for Green to be accepted he had to perform at the highest level which was unquestionably unfair. In his 26 games as a Celtic, he only managed to average 9.8 points per game. There were a lot of factors that may have played a part in his struggle to reach his season averages; being traded to a new team mid-season, learning the new system, and the pressure that he was under to perform at a high level all could have contributed to his lower productivity.
Last year, Jeff Green was going to be a go-to guy off the bench. Doc Rivers had said in an interview on a local sports radio station that there was a chance Green could start and have Paul Pierce come off the bench. Whether Doc was really considering it, we’ll never know, but before we found out about his heart condition, Green was going to be a vital part on the team.
This season, however, there has been no pressure or expectations so far. He’s not expected to be the sixth man, nor be a leading scorer off the bench, but just be a player who can play the forward positions. The fact that this team is so deep allows Green to be part of the mix. He’s a part that keeps this machine moving like all the other role players. But here is why I see him succeeding this season, and becoming a key player for the Celtics.
Jeff Green is most likely going to backup Paul Pierce while possibly playing power forward. At either position, he’ll be playing with a very good bench which is capable of scoring. With the outside threat of Jason Terry, the spacing on the floor will allow Jeff Green to have more room to operate. Green isn’t known as a three point shooter, and in the short time I had seen him play, he was more of a slasher, fast break option, and had a good 15-20 foot jump shot. Early on in the season, while he’s getting in better shape, all he needs to do is hit his jump shots and be consistent.
Later on in the season, I expect him to be a crucial part of an uptempo offense which is what he was accustomed to in Oklahoma. There is no question, the Celtics will run the fast break, and probably a lot this season. Like the days of being part of the Thunder, Green is going to have the same role; be a scoring option who can take the ball aggressively to the hoop.
Defensively, his length will give him an advantage over some of the smaller forwards, and I won’t be surprised if he is given the task of covering LeBron James when the Celtics play the Heat. Boston had trouble containing James, especially when Pierce was on the bench. Green’s importance to the team will come down to when the Celtics face the Heat in the playoffs.
I wish Jeff Green the best this upcoming season. The fact that he is given the chance to play again after having heart surgery is amazing. There is no doubt that he is going to be an important piece that could possibly propel the Celtics back to the Finals.