It has been over a year since Jeff Green last wore the Celtics jersey, as a necessary heart surgery kept him out for all of the 2011-2012 season. However, Green appears to be getting comfortable on the court again earlier than many expected.
The Boston Celtics had their first game of the overseas training camp in Istanbul with a 97-91 loss to Fenerbahce Ulker. Although Boston was unable to get the victory, the team gave a lot of minutes to the reserve players, which proved to be effective in assimilating Green back into the team's rotation.
After entering the game halfway through the first quarter, it only took a few minutes before Green started to look at home on the floor.
Despite only scoring five points and grabbing one rebound until the fourth quarter, he did not appear timid or afraid to put in the necessary effort. It appeared as if he did not have any real mental reservations about his body's ability to be pushed hard, although he did occasionally find himself out of position or hanging back a bit—which is to be expected of a man who missed an entire season.
The fourth quarter belonged almost entirely to Jeff Green, as Doc Rivers entrusted him to lead a lineup comprised of mostly rookies while the Celtics trailed their opponents in the final frame. Green found his stride, hitting on five of his eight shots to score 11 points over the final quarter. He also pulled in three rebounds and an assist.
He finished the night with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, with four rebounds and one assist. And he posted a team-high plus-10 plus/minus statistic in just over 26 minutes of play.
Although the performance was not necessarily awe-inspiring, it was very encouraging to see that Green could become a very successful contributor earlier than many believed he would.
In addition, Greg Payne of ESPN Boston reports that Doc Rivers believes that Green doesn't need to change his style of play in order to be more comfortable on the court. Rather, he simply needs the time he did not have when he first joined the team in order to become more comfortable with the C's style of play.
The good news is that the Celtics have set up a rather intensive training camp this year, including eight preseason games, that will allow Green to really test out his current limits and find his role before the regular season begins.
It is clear that Boston believes Green will not only live up to the value of his recently signed contract, but that he could become a key ingredient in a rotation that could lead to a championship. Hopefully Green will be able to use the time he has to become more comfortable with his team and build off of the success he had in his first game in Istanbul.
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