Jeff Green has stopped thinking about the surgery to repair his aortic aneurysm, the surgery that cost him a season and could have been a matter of mortality if not detected. Faith in his doctors — and a higher source — have left him with an almost fatalistic approach.
He is jumping from the plane, confident his parachute will open but ready to accept the consequences if it does not.
“It’s kind of taking a chance,” Green said. “It’s like the example you used with people skydiving. You never know what’s going to happen. You’ve just got to have faith that everything’s going to work out well. I use that with my knowledge in basketball. I’ve worked hard to get back to the position I’m in — being back on the court and in the shape I’m in, my skill set coming back to where it’s at. It’s me taking a chance and just going out there and playing basketball. I’m not going to be perfect. I’ve just got to go out there and play hard and trust that things will work out.
That photo might be one of the best missed-dunk photos I’ve seen.
Of course Green was fouled on that play, and he’d calmly step to the line rather than celebrate another huge dunk on a metro-New York team’s front line. But the explosive attacking of the basket is a very welcome sight this preseason. As Doc Rivers continues to tinker with all of his weapons like someone who just bought the latest Call of Duty game, Green has found himself on the court quite often.
He was, until Paul Pierce’s explosion last night, the Celtics leading preseason scorer. And he’s taking just under 5 free throws a game so far, which, if it was the regular season, would represent a career high.
Yes, I’ll harp on the Jeff Green thing this season for two reasons: (a) he’s a vital component to this team. If he does well, then the Celtics are going to especially difficult because he, perhaps above all other guys, has the potential to be the biggest matchup problem for opponents. And (b) everyone outside of Boston was just so dismissive of him. The stuff people said about him was a borderline (and sometimes not so borderline) hyperbolic negative reaction to his contract. As Green and the Celtics continue to get comfortable, we face the very real possibility that Green will get better, and thrive in this setting .
Speaking of which…
“I wasn’t shooting the ball well,” Lee said. “So when I got one, it was kind of a relief. It just shows that … one of the things Doc and this team focuses on is trusting each other. Rondo, he kept coming to me and he hit me on that open pass, and I hit the shot. To me, it symbolized all of that. My shot wasn’t falling, we stuck with it and Rondo kept coming to me.”
And Lee’s little celebration heading back up the court after the trifecta?
“I don’t have a title for it — I kiss both my fists, hit my heart and point to the sky,” Lee said. “I haven’t done it since college. But I was in some zone today. It rounded back out. I haven’t done it in a while.”
I’ve seen Courtney Lee do everything on the court already. He has shown a fantastic ability to get past defenders on the perimeter. He makes good choices with the ball. He hustles. He defends. And pretty soon a lot of those shots he’s taking will fall. This kid has a chance to do some really good things in Boston.
Pardon my channeling KG here, but it’s like making a stew… you’ve got all the ingredients there, you’ve just got to add the right amount of salt, some pepper, and let it cook long enough for all the flavor to come out. Taste it too soon, and it won’t be right.
Lee needs time to feel comfortable.
“I just think it’s always difficult when new guys come in here,” Rivers said. “And it’s not the system; it’s that they are playing next to Paul and Kevin and Rondo. They’re trying to figure out, ‘When should I shoot? Is this a good shot for me?’ So that just takes time.”
It can be a daunting task to come in and play next to Paul Pierce, especially when he’s hot like he was last night, and say “well, I know I’m open, but Paul is kinda open, so I’m going to give him the ball.” Because who wants to be the young punk that comes into Boston and steals shots from Pierce or Kevin Garnett?
This is where chemistry comes in. These guys are all telling him to shoot. And Rondo keep giving him the ball in places where he could do something with it. Eventually, these guys figure out that the Celtics want the player they traded for, not some passive, neutered version of him.
I don’t give a damn about the results of last night’s game. No one remembers any of the preseason records from years past. All that matters is that these new guys get a good sense of what they need to do. And yes, I count Jeff Green among them, because this is a new start. And while there is definitely work to do, you can see both these guys coming along quite nicely.
Related links: CSNNE: Garnett: Best is yet to come from Celtics players |
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: Doc surprises staff, puts assistants in charge in 2nd half | Two lockerless Celtics learning from the ground up | Joseph “blessed” to remain on Celtics, but more work to be done | Wilcox ‘not ready, not comfortable’ enough to return | ESPN Boston: Postgame notes: King of the Hill | WEEI: The Nets rise and Celtics challenge | Paul Pierce ends this Celtics-Nets debate | Celtics eye outside help after cuts | Herald: Joseph finds a place | Celtics revert to Plan B in loss | Globe: Healthy Pierce starts strong