Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Don't sleep on the huge game that Jeff Green had against the Heat.
Ray Allen's return was soon overshadowed by Rajon Rondo's exit and the Celtics inspired victory over the hated Miami Heat. But one of the reasons why they were able to win that game was the huge effort of one of the most maligned players on the Celtics.
Even if you put aside his huge dunk, his big block on Ray Allen, and his 11 points. His presence on the defensive end was enough to mean the difference between a win and a loss.
LeBron James, the player guarded by Green for most of the Celtics’ double-overtime win over the Miami Heat, needed to take 31 shots to score 34 points. Against the reigning NBA MVP, that is known as success. Green’s recent contributions, especially over the last two games, point to a player who may be emerging at a time when his team needs him most.
This is what Green was brought here to do. Not to be a "LeBron stopper" per se. But to be a guy that can at least keep up with him and slow him down at times while contributing a little bit of everything else on the court.
It isn't isolated to just this one game either. His man-to-man defense has been great all year (though his team defense hasn't always been what the coach would like to see).
Through 44 games, he's allowing a mere 0.757 points per play, which ranks him in the 87th percentile among all NBA players. Narrow the list to all players with at least 250 possessions defended and Green is 16th overall in the NBA (second only to Jared Sullinger on the Celtics for best individual numbers, among those that qualify).
Green has been inconsistent this year and maybe that's all he's going to be for us. But when he's on, it helps - a lot. While he doesn't play the guard position, with Rondo out it will take the whole team stepping up into bigger roles and working to distribute the ball as a team better. This might be an interesting opportunity for Green to thrive in.
Time will tell and it was just an isolated game. But it really was a very good game against the best competition the league has to offer. That's a good sign.