Jeff Green’s performance last night was beyond belief. As he shared the floor with the best player in the world, Green, at several points during the game was better than LeBron James, mixing an incredibly effective inside-outside game that the Miami Heat simply had no answer for. His shot chart was a work of art, with all nearly all 3-pointers and shot right at the basket, nothing in the mid-range.
After Green scored 26 points in the first half on 9-of-12 shooting, I joked on Twitter that he should pull a George Constanza and leave the TD Garden on a high note after intermission.
To his credit, Green did not do that. The former Georgetown star nearly picked up right where he left off in the second half, scoring 17 more points before becoming understandably gassed down the stretch and having to sit out a few minutes of the fourth quarter. Scoring 40+ and having to guard the reigning MVP all night will do that to you.
Green was not perfect later in the game. He made a couple mistakes defensively, leaving LeBron with openings as he tried to help his teammates in certain spots. While these plays weren’t smart, I can’t fault Green for this, as the addition of Kevin Garnett into this game changes Boston’s defensive dynamic entirely, allowing Green to focus on LeBron. Green was also clearly fatigued and should be much fresher the next time around in the fourth quarter when Doc has a full rotation to go with. That will help too.
One thing that encouraged me about Green just as much as his scoring last night was something Green was definitely not known for: his rebounding
Green has been doing a lot of things better lately, but rebounding is not one of them. He’s still averaging just 3.5 per game, and collecting just 12.6 percent of all available defensive rebounds when he’s on the floor. Not only is that a career low for him, that’s not a passable number for a player that the C’s will need to play as a stretch four in the postseason during crunch time.
The hybrid forward needs to be better on the glass, and on a night where he couldn’t miss, he also provided the C’s with a big boost in the interior, grabbing seven rebounds. That ties his highest board total in a game for the past three months. Percentage-wise, for the night, Green grabbed 18.4 percent of all available rebounds, which is an above-average number for any small forward in the league, any night.
The fact Green showed he was capable of doing this in such a big game, where this was already a huge offensive onus and responsibility on him speaks volumes to me. Green continues to progress as the year continues and while he won’t be scoring 40 plus points every night, if he can step up to help on the glass in the game that matters, it could be the difference between an early playoff exit and a serious challenge to the Miami Heat in a couple months.
Green also filled up the box score in with four blocks, two steals and a mere two turnovers on a night where Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley and Jason Terry were far too careless with the ball at points. Green scored, defended and didn’t turn the ball over. If it was possible to earn that inflated four-year contract in one night, Green may have done so yesterday.
Here’s his reaction after the game from a career-night that won’t soon be forgotten.