Though the Boston Celtics are currently on a three-game winning streak and have a 5-3 record, forward Kevin Garnett still isn't satisfied. In a report by Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald, the 14-time All Star was quick to mention teammate Jeff Green, whom he said needed to play like an...well, you know.
The gist of it is that the entire Celtics second unit needs to play harder, as no team can rely solely on its starters to carry the team the entire way. From Green to Courtney Lee to rookie Jared Sullinger, the Celtics need to play far more aggressively if they want to seriously contend in the long run.
Fortunately for Boston, Green took Garnett's advice in Wednesday night's game against the Utah Jazz. The former Georgetown Hoya scored 16 points in 27 minutes off the bench as the Celtics won 98-93.
However, the highlight of the night was Green's absolutely merciless dunk over Jazz center Al Jefferson.
Not only did he execute a great slam over one of the league's top big men, but he got a technical foul after doing so. If that isn't taking Garnett's advice, I don't know what is.
More importantly, Green's dunk is a testament to the toughness and physicality normally associated with the Celtics franchise. Once the rest of the bench players adopt this philosophy, the possibilities will be endless as the regular season carries on and the postseason arrives.
Simply put, the second unit cannot be carried by Green alone. Courtney Lee has been terrible since signing a four-year, $21.5 million deal over the summer, so bad to the point where he has been replaced in the starting lineup by Jason Terry and has only scored 18 points over his last five games. In terms of playing time, he has logged under 20 minutes in four of his past five games.
This is just plain sad, considering how Lee proved with the Rockets last season that he can be a solid shooter and also do some fine work above the rim. He's only averaging five field goal attempts per game, so he has to demand the ball more and be careful with his shot selection. Once he starts making those shots consistently, he'll finally start to look like the man GM Danny Ainge thought he was getting.
In the frontcourt, Jared Sullinger needs to do more with his 16.9 minutes per game. He has a great NBA body at 6'9", 260 pounds, and his 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game just aren't cutting it.
Rather, Sullinger needs to play like he's the second coming of Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who is of a similar build.
Davis played a key role coming off the bench for Boston ever since debuting in 2007, and his large frame proved to be a godsend in the low post. His tough defense, albeit in limited minutes, was one of the main reasons Boston won the NBA Finals in 2008 and returned in 2010, only to lose to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Everyone else on the Celtics bench can contribute accordingly, but there is only one point that head coach Doc Rivers needs to drive home: toughness, defense, and some more toughness for good measure. Yes, Boston has been playing well as of late, but they still look too passive as a whole. They need to become the team that will fight and claw throughout a game, not just at certain moments.
By playing consistently aggressive defense, the Celtics will no longer look like an old squad that just barely misses in the playoffs and instead like the storied franchise all basketball fans love to watch.
With Green continuing to play hard as he did against Utah, it's only a matter of time before the rest of the bench follows.
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