WASHINGTON — Jeff Green continues to leap over emotional hurdles after returning from a missed season because of surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. There was his first practice, then his first exhibition game, then his first regular-season game, and on Saturday night, there was his first game in his native area.
Green, who attended high school in nearby Hyattsville, Md., returned to the Verizon Center court, where he played for Georgetown. Green said he usually reserves a luxury suite for his family, who had not seen him play in person since his return before Saturday night and the Celtics’ 89-86 win over the Wizards.
He turned in his best game of the season, beginning the night with a streaking, uncontested dunk in the first quarter. He scored 11 points off the bench in 16 minutes.
“This is always home,” he said. “This is where I started my college career and played every home game. It’s always good to come back here and play in front of my family and friends. I love it, I enjoy playing here.”
Green had a splendid preseason, but was inconsistent in the first two regular-season games. He did not record a field goal in the opening loss to the Heat, then scored 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting in Friday’s 99-88 loss to the Bucks.
“There’s a different vibe from preseason to regular season and a different vibe from regular season to playoffs,” Green said before the game. “It was an emotional game for me [against Miami] being my first game with what happened last year. I’m not a very, very deeply focused player — I’ll leave that to [Kevin Garnett] — but I think I got too focused with it being my first game back. I wasn’t right.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has seen Wizards rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal many times. Beal played his only college season at Florida, where Rivers’s son Austin originally committed before signing with Duke. Beal was the third overall pick in the draft and was immediately made a starter.
“Him and Austin have always been back and forth in the dumbest thing in the world, called high school rankings,” Rivers said. “I hate them. They actually used to like each other for a while, and then they started ranking them. But [Beal] is good, he’s a good player. He’s a solid, fundamental basketball player, a great shooter.”
Beal struggled Saturday (0-for-5 shooting) and gave way to the blazing hot Jordan Crawford most of the second half.
A Rivers in Maine
Rivers’s oldest son, Jeremiah, who played at Georgetown and Indiana, was a fifth-round pick of the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics’ affiliate in the Development League.
Jeremiah, who played in Serbia last season, was part of the Knicks’ summer league entry in Las Vegas, despite coming off ankle surgery. He has said he wants to give the NBA a chance before returning overseas.
“That’s pretty cool, I just wanted to cut down on my travel,” said his father. “So now that he’s in Maine, I can drive up to watch him.
“It’s great for Jeremiah. He’s been injured all summer. He tried to play with the Knicks coming out of surgery and it was almost crazy that he even tried to play in the summer league. Hopefully, I can get up and see him play a couple of times.”
Rivers promised he would alter his starting lineups depending on matchups, and he did against the Wizards, going with rookie Jared Sullinger at power forward against fellow undersized strongman Trevor Booker of the Wizards.
Sullinger finished with 4 points and seven rebounds in 30 foul-plagued minutes.
“I’m unselfish and I understand I’ve got to pay my dues early,” he said.
Brandon Bass started the first two games at power forward, averaging 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 27.5 minutes. Rivers said Bass was the bright spot in an otherwise dreadful performance against Miami, scoring 15 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. He played nearly as many minutes (28) as Sullinger on Saturday, scoring 5 points, including a big second-half 3-point play.
The Wizards entered their home opener without guard John Wall (stress injury, right knee) and center Nene (plantar fasciitis, left foot). Former UConn star A.J. Price started in Wall’s place and scored 8 points on 3-of-10 shooting . . . Fab Melo and Avery Bradley were the Celtics’ inactives as Chris Wilcox continues to get into better shape after missing most of the preseason with a strained lower back. Wilcox made his season debut Friday against Milwaukee and scored 2 points in three minutes. He made a first-quarter appearance Saturday and went scoreless in 7:42 . . . After allowing five 30-point quarters in two games, the Celtics allowed just one Saturday, when the Wizards shot 66.7 percent in the second quarter and scored 30 points . . . Crawford, who led the Wizards with 21 points in 25 minutes, did not score after spraining his left ankle after being undercut by Green on a layup attempt with 9:51 left. Crawford returned with 4:52 left, and missed a 3-pointer with 1:52 remaining.