Boston Celtics v Houston Rockets

Celtic fans, what you see with Jeff Green is what you get

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When Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on the Jeff Green, Kendrick Perkins trade that Ainge thought more highly of Green than myself and some others did.

Not that Green is a bad player, he’s just kind of average (not the elite player some think). He’s athletic but his shot selection has always been poor and his defense was never that good. He would play passive at times.

Well, after five weeks Celtics fans have become perplexed by Green. Doc Rivers and the folks at ESPN Boston sum it up pretty well:

“I think he’s too nice,” Rivers said. “He’s trying to please the other guys on the floor. I’ve always thought playing with us is difficult, when you’re new, because you’re playing with Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] and Kevin [Garnett] and [Rajon] Rondo and you almost don’t think like you deserve to be an aggressive offensive player or you should be, and I think he does that way too much.”

Since joining the Celtics late in February, Green has averaged 9.8 points on 7.4 field goal attempts per game. The C’s are counting on Green to provide an offensive spark off the bench, and he’s done just that in certain games, like when he scored 13 of his 19 points in the second quarter in a win over the Indiana Pacers back on March 16.

But there have been other games where Green’s been less aggressive with his shot selection, and as a result, his contributions have been minimal. In his last two contests, he’s averaged just four points on five field goal attempts and two rebounds. Rivers suggested he’s still being too passive at times, but has begun to work his way out of that habit.

Everyone — this is Jeff Green. He was what we thought he was. It’s not like he was some guy coming from a bad team/system who now would see the light of day once in Boston.

Green’s shooting percentage, both inside and outside the arc, have gone up since going to Boston while using about the same percentage of the offense he did before. The shots he’s taking are changing — he is shooting about a quarter as many threes per game yet nearly as many midrange shots as he did in Oklahoma City (his threes per 36 minutes on the court dropped from 3.6 to 1.7, but his overall shot level remains close to the same). What’s more, Hoopdata.com shows he’s shooting much, much better in the midrange (from 20 percent to 46 percent on 10-15 footers).

Green’s offense isn’t bad, it’s just inconsistent. If Celtics fans thought they were getting something else in this deal they should have asked Thunder fans about his play. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder coaching staff hand periods of frustration with Green’s inconsistent offense.

Then there’s defense. Zach Lowe had the numbers at Sports Illustrated.

326 points allowed in 300 possessions, or 108.6 points allowed per 100 possessions. And here we see it happening again: Green’s team is playing far worse, defensively, with him on the floor. The sample size is small — only about 172 minutes — but the fact that we’re seeing this same trend repeat itself in Boston is not encouraging. The Celtics and Bulls have taken turns atop the league’s defensive rankings all season, with both surrendering about 100 points per 100 possessions. With Green on the floor, Boston has defended at about the level of the Rockets and Nets, who rank 20th and 21st in points allowed per possession this season.

Pretty much what happened at the Thunder.

You can rationalize it and say if you play him at different positions (more three than four) or put him in with different lineups you’ll get better results. Maybe. The Celtics are a team that figures things out, and Green provides nice depth off the bench on offense. Players do improve. Sometimes.

But basically, this is Jeff Green. What you are seeing is what you will get.

Byron Scott expected to start D’Angelo Russell after All-Star break, but hasn’t talked to him about it

Byron Scott D'Angelo Russell
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Communication.

When we talk about Lakers’ coach Byron Scott’s questioned player development skills with young players Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and particularly D'Angelo Russell, it is his old-school lack of communication that comes into question. It’s what is different from what Gregg Popovich or Quin Snyder or other guys developing strong young players have done. From the outside (we’re not in practices/film sessions), we see Scott was not letting Russell play through mistakes — feeling that was rewarding bad behavior — but then not doing a good job communicating what the player is doing wrong.

This comment from Scott, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, sums it up perfectly.

Scott plans to start Russell after NBA All-Star weekend (Feb. 12-14). But Scott said the two have not talked about that issue.

“He’s not old enough for me to have a meeting and discuss, ‘What do you think?’” Scott said.

I would say you should have that meeting — it’s called a teachable moment. “What do you think? Well here is what I see that is different.”

Part of what is going on with Scott and Russell is the concern from some in the Lakers’ camp that Russell is a little too full of himself, that his ego is too big, and it could become a problem. So they are trying to take him down a peg. I would say that for a smart player — and Russell is that — the game is humbling and will take care of the ego issue. But you’ve got to give him run to develop him.

Play him, and then communicate with him. It’s a system that does worth with modern players.

Nikola Vucevic hits fade-away game winner for Magic against Hawks

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The Hawks almost came back and won this — Atlanta went on an 8-0 run in the final minutes to tie the game at 94-94 with Orlando. The Magic had one last chance with 2.2 seconds left.

Nikola Vucevic nailed it.

Can’t blame Al Horford‘s defense on this one, he pushed Vucevic out and contested the shot. But in a make-or-miss league Vucevic nailed the game winner, Orlando wins 96-94.

If that looks familiar, Vucevic knocked down pretty much the same shot against the Lakers earlier this season.

LeBron James on Super Bowl: “Got to go with the Carolina Panthers”

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, right, embraces Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James after the Cavaliers defeated the Charlotte Hornets in an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 in Charlotte, N.C. The Cavaliers won 95-90. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
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We know Stephen Curry — who spent many of his formative years in Charlotte and still thinks of the city as his hometown — is all in on the Carolina Panthers today against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 30.

On this, he and LeBron James agree.

LeBron sounded like the politically cautious, image-conscious version of himself at the start of this quote from Uninterrupted on Facebook, but as he gets going, you can quickly see who he wants in this game (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“I don’t know if I quite got a prediction but I definitely want to see a great Super Bowl,” James said in the video. “But if it was a life and death situation and I had to choose one team and one player, I got to go with Killah Cam. Got to go with the Carolina Panthers, they’ve been playing the most consistent football all year round. Both offensively, defensively and special teams. Got to go with Cam and one of my boys plays for them too as well, Ted Ginn Jr., that’s been showing out all year as well.

“No disrespect to the Broncos. I love their team. They got the legend at quarterback, they got that defense that’s out of control. They got some receivers that be balling out as well. They’re really well coached as well and that’s the reason they are in the Super Bowl. But I’m rolling with the Carolina Panthers today.”

A lot of NBA players like the way Cam Newton plays — with exuberance, wearing his heart on his sleeve, dancing and celebrating. That’s how Curry and LeBron and other NBA players want to play their game, and they feel reined in by the league. They relate to Cam Newton and the ridiculous role model/celebration debate.

We’ll see how much celebrating the Denver defense lets Newton do.

Kevin Durant on Warriors, Spurs: “We’re not scared of neither one of those teams”

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 6: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder while facing the Golden State Warriors on February 6, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
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We’d seen this movie before. Against the San Antonio Spurs. Against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Golden State Warriors offensive machine got cranked up, dropped 73 on Oklahoma City in the first half, led by 14 at the break, and it was about to turn into another rout, and another statement win for the Warriors.

Except the Thunder came back. OKC held Golden State to just 18 third quarter points and got the lead down to two points — the Thunder pushed the Warriors away from the things they like to do (Stephen Curry/Draymond Green pick-and-roll) and made life difficult for them. It was a fantastic performance for OKC, even if Golden State still prevailed with a 116-108 win.

After the game Durant would have none of any moral victory talk — even though it was — and he said the Thunder were not intimidated by the Warriors or anyone else, via Royce Young of Oklahoma City.

“That’s what we’re supposed to do,” Durant said of the comeback. “When we get down, we’re supposed to tie the game up. No moral victories in here…

“Man, we’re not scared of neither one of those teams,” Durant said, including the Spurs. “We’re going to play our game. Nobody in this locker room is scared. We gotta play ’em. If we want to get to where we want to get to, we gotta play ’em. We’re not ducking nobody.”

The NBA isn’t professional boxing; nobody gets to duck anybody.

But a Thunder team searching for respect gained a measure Saturday night. The Thunder picture themselves contenders and for much of the season listened to talking heads (myself included) say the Warriors and Spurs are in a different class. Saturday night was a step in showing that they belonged. There are still questions about how Golden State or San Antonio could exploit players such as Dion Waiters or Enes Kanter is a seven-game series, but the Thunder have two of the league’s top five players — they can beat and hang with anyone.

They have a shot at a title.

If Durant believes that, it would impact his decision this summer, but that is another discussion.