Boston Celtics: Jeff Green Is the Player to Watch in Home Opener
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Jeff Green put together great performances night in and night out during the preseason, but he disappeared almost entirely when his team needed him most—opening night against the rival Miami Heat.
Although Boston had a late game surge, the Celts were unable to make the comeback and will head into their home opener at the TD Garden with a loss under their belt.
During the preseason, Green made headlines with his four year, $36 million extension and a number of great performances that revealed the dominant style of play that he can produce.
Green averaged 13.9 points on 49.4 percent shooting (40.4 percent from three-point range), 4.9 rebounds per game and displayed a defensive effort that made Celtics fans feel that he was the missing piece to a championship team.
Unfortunately, Celtics fans did not see the same player emerge in Tuesday night's game against the Heat.
Green missed all four shots that he took, resulting in only three points from the free-throw line, as well as three rebounds, one steal and one turnover in 23 minutes of play.
He seemed to be a bit lost on the court and lacked the aggression he showed driving to the rim in the preseason.
Green's defense was very limited against Miami, and he was unable to force mistakes from his opponents as he had earlier in the month. Defensively, he was matched up with LeBron James for a period of time, and no matter how well a player performs in the preseason, nothing compares to playing the most dominant player in the league.
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Another point to consider is that the Jeff Green missed the entire 2011-12 season after undergoing a necessary heart surgery, which may have led to an increase in nervousness for the young forward.
Although he played extremely well in the preseason, stepping back onto the court for the first regular season game against the best player in the NBA would be more than a bit daunting.
Green will have the opportunity to start off on a better foot at home, as the Milwaukee Bucks come to the TD Garden on Friday night.
The Bucks were ranked 22nd in the league last year in points allowed, giving up 98.7 points per game. Against Milwaukee, Green will battle players that aren't as strong as the group he faced in Miami.
The Boston Celtics will look to make a statement after the loss on Tuesday, and they will likely focus on the defensive end of the floor.
It would not be surprising to see Green have an increase in playing time, and actually demonstrate the tough defense that fans saw in his preseason outings.
Green is likely due to bounce back offensively after a dismal shooting night in Miami, and perhaps he used the game to work out the nerves he may have had returning for the first time since his heart surgery.
I'm predicting that we will see a stronger performance from Green in his second game, putting up a performance around 11 points on 44 percent shooting, four rebounds, two assists and will find his way to the free-throw line a few times.
There is no reason to overreact on Green's performance from game one of the 2012-13 season, but hopefully he will show a bit more flash in the home opener, and gain the trust of Celtics fans going forward.
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