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Nets’ Jeff Green cleared to play in Game 4 Sunday

Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets - Game One

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 22: Jeff Green #8 of the Brooklyn Nets in action against the Boston Celtics in Game One of the First Round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center at Barclays Center on May 22, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

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Blake Griffin has stepped up with quality minutes, Nicholas Claxton has shown the promising flashes he did this season, and in general the Nets have gotten enough from their big men to maintain their status as the team to beat these playoffs.

However, heading into the postseason, Jeff Green was seen as the critical big man — and the fifth Beatle in closing lineups — for the Nets. He has been out since the Boston series with a strained plantar fascia, but he will be back on Sunday for Game 4 against the Bucks, the team announced.

Green averaged 11 points and 3.9 rebounds a game for the Nets this season, but the numbers do not do justice to his value. He is a better defender than Griffin, a switchable big man on one end and shot 41.2% from 3 this season on the other — he can space the floor in a way Claxton cannot.

Green is part of what, on paper, is the Nets’ best lineup: James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, and Green. That five-some had a net rating of +26.7 and was dynamic on offense and solid on defense in limited minutes this season, and it was a rotation Steve Nash was expected to lean heavily upon in the postseason.

He will not lean on it in Game 4 as Harden remains out with a strained hamstring. But Nash now has Green to throw into the mix.