The constant knock on Jeff Green is that he isn't aggressive often enough. He talks about wanting to be the go-to guy and a lot of us (myself included) simply smile and say "that's nice, but he's really more of a 2nd or 3rd option guy."
Before last night, he wasn't doing much to change that opinion.
Despite his repeated proclamations about wanting to be the Celtics' "go-to" guy, Green has been like Casper the Friendly Ghost in the fourth quarter of most games. In the Celtics' previous six games, Green was 3-for-17 shooting in the fourth quarter while scoring a total of nine points. On Saturday, he was doing a much better job at searching out the ball. And his teammates in turn made getting him the ball a much bigger priority. Green had 10 points in the fourth on 3-for-6 shooting, which included the winner.
And what a game winner it was. It might go down as the play of the year and we aren't even out of the first month yet.
Still, this was a fluke thing, right? Anyone can hit a lucky shot when the stars align, right? Well, maybe there's more to this story.
Green’s game-winner was his seventh career game-tying or go-ahead field goal in the final 5 seconds of a game. His 64 percent shooting on those shots (7-for-11) is the highest percentage for any player with at least 10 attempts since he entered the league in 2007-08.
So if anything, Green is no stranger to these situations and has proven that he can rise to the occasion. Just last year he did so in front of his heart surgeon.
Of course this isn't the final chapter in the Jeff Green book. He's proven what he can do, now it is up to him (and his teammates) to go out there and repeat it night in and night out. Not the game winning shots per se, but being the go-to guy and stepping up to the occasion.
Perhaps the most maddening thing about all this is that we know what he can do and we want to see it more. For him, for us, for the team in general. It seems clear that he wasn't born with that hyper-competitive-killer mentality that Rondo and Kobe have. He doesn't have that gimme-the-ball every night attitude that Paul Pierce has.
But he is a competitor and he does play with a lot of pride. He wants to make the right play (not unlike Kevin Garnett who often passed up shots because he felt there were better options) and he's very versatile. Perhaps with a little bit of guidance and a larger role he'll develop his own kind of rhythm and flow.
You don't have to be Kobe to be a great scorer in the league. In fact, I would even go so far as to disagree with Kevin Garnett about being more of an [expletive]. Jeff is a nice guy, so trying to become something he isn't probably isn't the answer. Tapping into the best parts of him and maximizing those to their full extent is the challenge that is before Coach Stevens and Jeff himself.
It will be interesting to see what the next chapters have in store. It has been a real page turner already.