There were plenty of positives to be taken away from the Celtics second half comeback on Monday in Dallas (did you see that chest bump from Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart - goosebumps). The first half, however, was anything but positive.
There was one silver lining though, and that was the play of Jeff Green. Jeff put the Celtics on his back in that first half (as much as anyone whose team finished a half down 26 could) with 18 points, while the rest of his Celtics teammates could only muster 23 in total. He kept the ship afloat until the rest of the team finally woke up after halftime.
Jeff had his full arsenal on display on Monday night. He hit a three less than two minutes into the game and didn't look back. Chandler Parsons went under on the pindown screen, and Green made him pay. This was the first play of many where Uncle Jeff torched Dallas's most eligible bachelor.
A few plays later, Parsons was so worried about Green sticking another three that he tried to jump over the top of a similar pindown screen. That didn't work either. Jeff slipped backdoor and Rondo found him for an alley-oop.
A few minutes later, Jeff used his incredible upfake to get a wide open mid range jumper.
Green hit his three at a respectable 34% last year, and after three games is shooting at 36.4% on 7 attempts per. If he can maintain that volume and efficiency over the course of the season, defenders will have to respect his upfake even more and that will continue to open up the rest of his game. On Monday night, he hit a couple threes in transition where he stopped on a dime and pulled, and hit another off a step back after a defender flew by on another upfake. When Jeff is hitting like that, he is a very difficult guard.
The Celtics ran Jeff in the pick and roll several times, and sure enough he produced there, too. Parsons tried to get over the screen the first time and Jeff went right to the rim for a bucket.
The next time Jeff ran the pick and roll, the Mavs hedged harder to prevent the drive, and Green took what the defense gave him and found Sully for an easy two.
The Celtics also posted up Green a few times, and he abused defenders there as well. On one post up, he caught Jae Crowder reaching and waltzed into the lane for an easy finger roll. On another, he drove baseline on Al-Farouq Aminu, then spun towards the middle and put up a lefty hook shot that would make Kareem blush. It was flat out nasty.
Green even went to the offensive boards a few times against the Mavs, which showed that he was really in attack mode. It seems whenever he's in the paint, Green can at least get his hand on the ball thanks to his length and jumping ability. He can't be expected to go hard to the glass all the time, but he is so good at it you only wish he would do it more (that last part could apply to every aspect of Jeff's game).
Green was great in Dallas, but being a great player means doing it night in and night out. He has had flashes of brilliance before, but as of yet has not been able to do it on a consistent basis. The lack of consistency is not due to a lack of talent, but rather a lack of aggression. The 28 shots he took on Monday were more than he took in any one game all of last year. The Celtics surely would love to see Jeff attack in that manner all throughout this season.
When Jeff's three is falling and he is aggressive like he was against the Mavericks, he is very difficult to stop. So far this season, he has tried to make more of an effort to get to the offensive glass, as he is averaging two offensive rebounds a game, and even came up with the Celtics first bucket of the season off a putback against the Nets. He has demanded the ball in the post, shot his jumper with confidence, and been driving hard to the cup.
Jeff has consistently been criticized for being inconsistent. After three games, he has gone for 17 points twice and then 35 against Dallas. You could say that 35 point outing is inconsistent in comparison to the other two. Here's to hoping he maintains the inconsistency he has displayed so far this season, with the outliers in the 30's rather than in the single digits.