Celtics

Notes: Rivers praises Green for key effort

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Notes: Rivers praises Green for key effort

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM Jeff Green had six points in Boston's 97-81 Game 3 win over the Miami Heat.

But if you didn't know that, you would have thought he went for 20 and 10 based on how coach Doc Rivers gushed about his performance.

Rivers would love for Green to put up those kind of scoring and rebounding numbers. But on this team, Green has a role . . . and that's not it.

He's a backup the Celtics are counting on to provide solid defense, some rebounds and, maybe most importantly, some stability to a second unit that has been inconsistent throughout this series.

The C's got all that and then some from Green in Boston's Game 3 victory.

They'll need a similar effort to even up this best-of-seven series in Game 4 on Monday.

"You know," Rivers said, "maybe for the first time in his career he was as valuable as he's ever been at any point in his career without scoring."

Green was part of a Celtics' defensive effort that limited LeBron James to just 15 points on 6-for-16 shooting from the field.

Being able to contribute in other ways besides scoring is something Green says he's more than comfortable with doing.

"That's our job with the second unit," Green said. "Try to force deflections, take charges rebound, get in the open court and just make plays."

Said Rivers: "He scored a couple points. But his defense, his pressure, getting up, his deflections . . . that's the Jeff Green we want to see every night. He has to keep doing that."

Kevin Garnett played 38 minutes in Game 3, which included a stretch in which he played the entire third quarter -- something Rivers has been reluctant to do in past years.

Rivers said the fact that Garnett played so many minutes - he only had one game this season in which he played more - didn't really concern him.

"With him, the minutes in a row can be dangerous," Rivers said. "We stuck with it. It was a gamble that I don't like to take."

Rivers didn't really have much of a choice, especially the way Garnett was playing and how Garnett's backup, Glen Davis, has struggled throughout this series.

The decision to give Garnett extended minutes had nothing to do with Davis, Rivers said.

"It was more to do with how Kevin was rolling," Rivers said. "I'm thinking, 'How am I going to take him out now?' "

Along with Rajon Rondo's injury (dislocated left elbow), Ray Allen had foul trouble and Paul Pierce was being double-teamed.

That left Garnett, one of the NBA's all-time leading scorers, basically carrying the offensive load for the Celtics.

"The decision was made almost by the situation," Rivers said.

Even after it has been played and replayed countless times in the last 24 hours, Doc Rivers still can't bring himself to see the gruesome left elbow injury suffered by Rajon Rondo through its entirety.

In the third quarter, Rondo and Miami's Dwyane Wade got tangled up and Rondo suffered a dislocated left elbow, which has led to some in Celtics Nation believing that Wade had intended to hurt Rondo.

Rivers isn't buying that theory.

"It was a hard foul," Rivers said. "Let's put it like this. He didn't intend to hurt Rondo. I honestly don't believe in 99 percent cases in our league, a player never intends to hurt anybody, but he did. It just happens."

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

Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Coaches in all sports will tell you that winning is not easy.
 
Making the Celtics’ 16-game winning streak even more impressive is that a number of the victories have involved Boston turning to some unlikely sources of production.

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And that has provided a glimpse into a franchise that’s getting the best of both worlds: quality play from its core group while developing reserves who have contributed to the team reeling off 16 straight wins in a variety of ways.
 
Because coach Brad Stevens has gone deeper into his bench this season than past years, it has created a roster with minutes more evenly distributed and with that, less wear and tear on the bodies of key players.
 
And while this team is led by Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, there has been at least one other Celtic to emerge as a top-three performer every night...and often it’s not the same player.
 
“Much more unpredictable now,” a league executive texted to NBC Sports Boston. “That number three guy, is it [Jaylen] Brown? [Jayson] Tatum? Sometimes it’s Marcus [Smart]. You don’t know who it’s going to be because a lot of times, I don’t think they [Celtics] know who it will be. It’s why they’re so good, man.”
 
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game in Miami with the Celtics trying to push their winning streak to 17:

KYRIE FOR MVP
It’s one thing for the home crowd to get into the ‘M-V-P’ chants when you’re at the free-throw line. But it’s a completely different matter when those same cheers are being heard on the road. That’s where Irving was following the 110-102 overtime win at Dallas, a game in which Irving dropped 47 points, 10 in overtime. It’ll be interesting to see if another strong game by Irving will lead to another serenading of ‘M-V-P’ chants for the most dominant player on the team with the league’s best record.


 
TURNING DOWN THE HEAT
The streak is the talk of the NBA right now, but streaking was going to be part of the conversation leading up to tonight’s game regardless. The Celtics come into tonight’s game having won eight in a row over the Heat, their longest current winning streak over any team. Boston has dominated this matchup for years, posting a 70-44 record all-time against Miami in the regular season.
 

DUKE CONNECTION
College basketball just kicked off and Duke is once again among the game’s top teams, a school that consistently produces NBA talent at a relatively high level. That’ll be very apparent tonight when you consider this Boston-Miami matchup features three players (Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum for Boston, Justise Winslow for Miami) from Duke who will all be in the starting lineup and a fourth (Boston’s Semi Ojeleye) who attended Duke but later transferred to SMU.


 
JUSTISE WINSLOW
Every front-office executive has that one player they tried – and failed – to acquire that, in hindsight, not getting him was a really good thing. Winslow is that guy for the Celtics. While he hasn’t been necessarily a bust, his impact at this level hasn’t been enough to have warranted all the assets Boston was willing to part with on draft night in order to move up and select him. Still, he’s healthy now and starting to play better which is evident by his numbers in most offensive categories on the rise, while his defense has been relatively solid.
 

THREE-POINTERS
The Heat have made the 3-point shot a much bigger part of their offense this season, evident by Miami ranking seventh in the league in 3-point makes (11.2) this season. In Boston, one of the keys to their top-ranked defense has been their length, which has come in real handy defending the 3-pointer. In fact, Boston has limited opponents to just 32.1 percent shooting on 3’s this season, which ranks third in the league.

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

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