Jeff Green’s day is coming. The most versatile player on the Celtics’ roster, Green may not start many games this season but will certainly play a huge part in Doc Rivers’ plans. Green has the size, strength and quickness to step in and guard players like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, both of whom have a long history of monster games in this league. James is especially worrisome for Rivers, and for good reason: James averaged 33.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals and shot 52.7 percent from the field against Boston in last season’s conference finals.
Green won’t be able to prevent James from leaving his indelible imprint on a series, but he’ll be asked to help slow down the league’s best player – and in the process give Paul Pierce some relief in terms of guarding a beast like James.
And really, all we’re asking for Green to do is step up in those moments when his name is called.
There are some real questions out there about whether Green can do just that, and we won’t have our answer until we start playing the games that really matter. Scoring 25 points in a preseason game against the Knicks, like he did tonight, is a nice diversion from the meaninglessness of a Boston / New York tilt in Albany. But what we really need is for Green to play big in the big moments, especially on the defensive end. That’s where we’re going to see the real value in a role player who just returned from a life-threatening heart ailment to ink a 4-year, $36 million dollar deal.
I’m on the record that I’m down with Jeff Green. LeBron James may be the best player on the planet, but even a player as majestically gifted as James isn’t quite as effective if he has to work harder than ordinary. Green’s job will be to make James work, and work hard. I have faith him Green – I can see him accepting that challenge and doing a whale of a job at it.
Of course, we’ll have to see it to believe it.
We may get our first loo