Celtics

Notes: Green answers Rivers' defensive challenge

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Notes: Green answers Rivers' defensive challenge

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Boston Celtics had the victory over Philadelphia well in hand.

All Philadelphia's Marreese Speights wanted was a bucket during garbage time.

Jeff Green wasn't having it, as he delivered a highlight-worthy block in the closing seconds of Boston's 99-82 win.

Green, who also had eight points and seven rebounds, came into the game with a bit of a defensive chip on his shoulder.

Coach Doc Rivers had said recently that Green needs to pick his game up on the defensive end of the floor, in addition to improving his rebounding numbers.

Consider both missions accomplished on Tuesday.

"It was great," said Rivers, referring to Green's defense. "We got on him a little bit the last couple days about defense and rebounding. I thought he answered tonight."

But Green, the Big East's Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, can't allow Tuesday night's strong performance be a one-night thing.

"For him, it has to be a repetitive act now," Rivers said. "He has to do it next game and the game after that. It has to become a habit."

It's fair to say that Philadelphia's Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's NBA draft, hasn't had the kind of rookie season most envisioned. He has been in and out of the Sixers lineup, still searching for a more defined role.

One of the knocks on Turner has been that he's not aggressive enough.

That wasn't a problem in Tuesday's loss to the Celtics.

Turner, who came into the game averaging 6.9 points per game, had 21 points - just two shy of tying his career-high - off the Sixers' bench.

While Turner hasn't had the kind of impact fans have come to expect from a player taken so high in the draft, coach Doug Collins said it has more to do with Philadelphia's personel than any shortcoming in Turner's game.

"I don't know a lot, but I do know what player's strengths and weaknesses are, and Evan's really, really good when he has the ball in his hands," Collins said. "When we have Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams, and Dre Andre Iguodala, I mean it's hard to have that fourth guy out there with the ball in his hands."

But with Williams (hamstring) out for the rest of the regular season and possibly some of the playoffs, opportunities for Evans to prove himself may be more plentiful in these final regular season games.

"We put the ball in his hands a lot on Tuesday; he attacked, he played great, I was proud of him," Collins said. "When he didn't play it wasn't something he did, and it's not because he wasn't a really good player. Just sometimes you're trying to put it all together and piece it together and it's hard."

It's looking more like that slump of sorts that Ray Allen was in, is now a thing of the past.

For the second straight game, Allen shot the ball extremely well.

In Boston's 99-82 win over Philadelphia, Allen had 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field. That performance came on the heels of a 5-for-6 shooting performance in Boston's win over Detroit on Sunday.

Prior to that, Allen was 26-for-73 from the field (35.6 percent) from the field in Boston's previous seven games.

Rivers has maintained all along that Allen is simply going through one of those shooting funks he goes through every season.

That's why he's not overly concerned with Allen's struggles, nor does he believe that it will have any impact on Allen's confidence in shooting the ball.

"Ray never lost his confidence," Rivers said. "He just couldn't make a shot. You know, Ray is shooting anything leather. He is. He's not going to lose confidence. He's going to struggle like we all struggle at times."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

The solution for Celtics? Play better down the stretch

The solution for Celtics? Play better down the stretch

BOSTON – If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Brad Stevens in his time as Celtics coach, it’s that he’s not about that sugarcoating life.
 
When it comes to his team, he’s about as transparent a coach as you will find in the NBA.

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So, when he says his team has been outplayed in both of its first two games, he’s not doing it as some stealth rallying cry.
 
He’s doing it because it’s where they are at this moment.
 
“So, whatever that’s attributable to, we’ve got to fix it, we’ve got to be better at it, regardless of when it is,” Stevens said.
 
Boston will get another crack at it on Friday night against a Philadelphia squad that, like the Celtics, is also searching for its first win of the season.
 
Struggling to win games is something the Sixers have grown accustomed to in recent years.
 
But the Celtics have been on an upward trajectory every year under Stevens’ watch. And while it’s far too soon to panic over their start, players understand that change must come about soon if they are to get on the right track and have the kind of season they envision for themselves as a group.
 
“Brad’s right, we have a lot of plays to clean up and a lot of stuff to get better at, but that’s’ the beauty of it,” said Jaylen Brown. “We got a really good group and a lot of young guys – we’re going to move forward and take that challenge. We’re going to win some games; we’re going to win a lot of games here in Boston.”
 
But doing so won’t be easy, not with the Celtics still trying to find the best way to move forward following Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that may keep him out for the remainder of this season.
 
The Celtics have led in the fourth quarter of both losses before eventually failing to make the necessary plays down the stretch to ensure victory.
 
Some of that has to do with the unfamiliarity - not a surprise when you add 10 new players to the mix in one offseason. Another contributing factor is, because of injuries, there are players elevated to more prominent roles who were otherwise seen as simply depth additions at the end of the bench.
 
Whatever the reasons may be, the bottom line is clear: the Celtics have played two games where they were outplayed enough to lose. 
 
“I don’t want to make the excuse that we’re a young team, but we are,” said Kyrie Irving. “We have some experience here and we have to utilize that and continue to exude confidence in young guys and ourselves and understand the game comes in waves. There are going to be ups and downs. We have to be able to withstand other team’s runs as well as hit back and have that hit-first mentality in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter. Once we start understanding we have to put a complete game together, myself being at the head of the ball and being better with it and putting guys in the right spots, we’ll be fine.”