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Jeff Green excelling at individual defense, really

Jeff Green is stepping up the way Celtics' fans have been waiting for, but not just on the offensive end.

Jared Wickerham

The Celtics are on fire and you know who else is?

Avery Bradley?


Courtney Lee?


Jeff Green?

Um, really? No way!

It's true. Uncle Jeff has been fantastic over the course of the team's current, six-game win streak, finally showing more than just a glimpse of all the talent and ability and potential Danny Ainge has been salivating over since acquiring him for Kendrick Perkins almost two years ago. Green looks like he gets it.

He's doing it in a variety of ways. Just by doing the eye test, we can see that he's consistently playing more aggressively, taking more initiative and not appearing so passive all the time. He's going to the rim more and not hesitating so much when he gets the ball on the wing or in the corner for an open jumper, or when he gets the ball on the block with a smaller, slower player trying to guard him.

But he's also doing it with defense. Earlier this week, ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg pointed out that Green has been a wonder on D from an individual standpoint, ninth among all NBA players with at least 200 plays this season in points per play allowed at 0.721, according to Synergy Sports data.

The numbers look good elsewhere as well. According to Hoopsdata, Green's defensive play rating clocks in at a healthy 1.25, tied with Lee for the highest number among the Celts' second unit members. He's also blocking shots at a higher rate than anyone on the roster save for Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass and his defensive win share, like the play rating, leads the reserves.

There's no doubt that these stats, along with the 12.5 points, four rebounds and roughly 50 percent shooting in 24 minutes per game over the last four games are major factors in the emergence of the second unit as a huge weapon for the Celts.

Forsberg later points out that Celtics' coach Doc Rivers still wants to see improvement from Green in his help defense and rotation ability. Nothing wrong with that at all. Rivers has presided over championship-level defenses over the past five-plus years so he clearly know what's necessary for both Green and the team as a whole to reach an elite level on that side of the ball. And given the strides made by Green over the course of this winning streak and this season, it's not a stretch to see that kind of improvement on the horizon.

So stop picking on Green, Celts' fans (hello, self!). He's finally figuring out how to get the job done all over the court.

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