Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
On an icy, cold morning here in Boston, not much will be of much solace to C’s fans. But if there’s one thing to be happy about after last night, it was Jeff Green’s breakout performance. Starting in place of an injured Kevin Garnett, Green put up 43 points in Boston’s 105-103 loss to Miami. Chris Forsberg writes:
The Georgetown student section used to serenade his mother with adoring chants of “Jeff Green’s mom!” but the Boston Celtics forward cannot remember a single time in his basketball career when the crowd actually chanted for him. That changed on Monday night when a not particularly creative, but nonetheless affectionate cry of Green’s name reverberated inside TD Garden. Starting in place of an ailing Kevin Garnett (flu, adductor strain), Green erupted for a career-high 43 points on 14-of-21 shooting in a 105-103 loss to the streaking Miami Heat. Multiple times when Green stepped to the free-throw line in the second half, the 26-year-old heard his name bellowed in a spot typically reserved for an MVP chant. “Yeah, I heard it,” Green admitted of the fans’ unexpected affection. “It was a good feeling, but you have to try to stay in the game, stay focused and think about the next play.”
So does Green feel any better about the loss, seeing that he dropped impressive numbers on arguably one of the best defensive teams in the league? No. And you can’t blame him. He, his teammates and fans wanted that one last night. Badly:
So asked how he felt, personally, after Boston’s biggest individual offensive output of the Kevin Garnett era — matching the 43 points posted by Paul Pierce against the Knicks in April 2012 — Green glumly offered, “I’m mad we lost. It sucks.” Did his individual play provide any solace? “No, we still lost,” Green said. Despite the fact that the Celtics, who led by as many as 17 points and owned a 13-point cushion with 8:27 to go, couldn’t find a way to end Miami’s winning streak — at 23, the second longest single-season stretch in league history — Green will see his public approval rating skyrocket in the aftermath.
I would hope his “public approval” would skyrocket. How can you not root for this guy? After all he’s been through, with his heart surgery and fans calling for his head earlier in the year after a slow start, you can’t help but be thrilled for Jeff:
That’s no small feat for a player that — fair or not — has struggled to be fully embraced here because he was traded for one of Boston’s most beloved ring-wearing, straight-shooting hoopsters (Kendrick Perkins) in a deal that some contend defused the team’s chemistry and derailed the 2010-11 season (and beyond?). As well, Green hasn’t consistently produced to either his perceived potential or the $36 million contract he inked this summer after sitting out all of last season with a heart ailment. But with one monster effort, Green broke down some of those lingering barriers. A city that needs little to embrace its own, opened up its arms by simply repeating his name over and over in support of his effort Monday. Oh, those fans will want to see that sort of aggressiveness consistently, and Green himself suggested that you’re only as good as your last game. For at least one night, Green was spectacular, putting on a show the likes of which has rarely been seen in these parts since the turn of the century.
Jeff was the talk of both locker rooms Monday night. Celtics and Heat players alike showed him respect:
“It’s fun,” Pierce said. “When you have a guy that has it going like he did today, you wonder what he ate that morning or whatever he did that day. He needs to keep doing it because it worked, obviously. It’s fun to watch, to be a part of that.”
“He’s capable of whatever when he puts his mind to it,” Pierce added. “He’s shown flashes of what he can do throughout the course of a season when he’s focused, when he’s locked in, and that was an example of it today. We wanted him to stay aggressive, he had the matchup most of the night at the [power forward] position versus whoever guarded him, and he was aggressive the whole night. And that’s what we need from him.”
Green erupted for 26 first-half points, making nine of his first 12 shots in what at times seemed like a layup line against a Miami defense that offered little resistance to him getting to the rim.
“[Green] was locked in,” Miami’s Dwyane Wadeadmitted. “I think he’s a very good player. … He was on fire. He just came out very aggressive.”
“He had a tremendous game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra added. “He played great, he was aggressive, he was making tough plays, and he was putting a lot of pressure on our defense.
“Give him credit, the guy [has] been through a lot. Even as competitors you don’t want to see anybody out like that through some of the ailments he’s been through. I know it had been a tough year for him last year. I’m just glad he had a big night on one of our wins.”
While Green has been steadily emerging in recent weeks, Rivers admitted he sees a different player when Green plays with the confidence he exuded on Monday.
“[Early on he] missed a free throw, missed a couple of shots and you know the old Jeff may have gone away,” Rivers said. “He actually just kept going and kept going, and that’s all we talked about. Once he realized he had an advantage, he took advantage. That was great.
“That’s why the one play we drew up [at the end of the game] gave him a quick [isolation] and he got all the way to the basket. Shane Battier made a hell of a play. You’ve got to give him credit there, but we liked where he was at.”
Here’s Jeff’s shot chart from last night via NBA.com/stats:
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Pierce Has Trouble Seeing Bright Side Feeling The Heat | CSNNE: Celtics Fall Short In Bid To Stop Heat Source: Celts Sign To Sign White For Remainder Of Season | Herald: No Silver Lining Ray Allen Feels Heat Bradley Plays It Cool |