Jeff Green realizes that patience can be short in Boston, especially when every game is significant and he was considered the Celtics’ major free agent acquisition this season.
While there was an understandable grace period after he underwent surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, Green slowly has found his way in his role as sparkplug off the bench, volume scorer, and capable 3-point shooter.
In four December games, Green is averaging 15.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 56.8 percent shooting from the field and 60 percent from the 3-point line. After being wildly inconsistent through the season’s first month, Green is beginning to settle down, find his niche, and contribute to Celtics victories.
“Being aggressive, attacking the rim, getting to the free throw line,” he said when asked the reasons for his recent success. “I’m getting there [physically]. My balance is getting there. I’m running the floor hard, at a good pace defensively. Staying low. My legs are getting a lot stronger. It’s been a slow process but it’s coming along.”
Confidence has been Green’s primary issue since coming to the Celtics. His teammates and coaches have strongly encouraged him to be more aggressive and take open shots. He had a quick transition period to Boston when he was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in February of 2011 in exchange for Kendrick Perkins , and it’s taken him even longer to get comfortable after heart surgery and a season off.
Green shot 42.1 percent from the field in November and was 7 for 24 from the 3-point line over that 15-game stretch. In December, he already has drained six 3-pointers. His ability to regularly hit from long distance is critical if the Celtics want to take some of the offensive burden off Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
“If the ball’s not going in then you’ve got to figure out something else to impact the game,” Green said. “Right now, the ball is going in, the defense is playing well. I’ve been rebounding well. So even if my shot is not going in, I don’t get down on myself. I just need to figure out another way to make an impact.”
Green has a mean streak but it doesn’t always come out on the court. Teammates such as Garnett have been encouraging Green to play with a grittier attitude, and he has shown no hesitation in attempting to dunk on opponents, such as the jam last month on former Celtic Al Jefferson. Green earned a technical foul for staring at Jefferson after the dunk.
“I’m just trying to get open, being an outlet to my teammates,” he said. “If the dunk is there, it’s there. I am going to try to get a foul and a layup. But I’m athletic. If I get to the rim I am going to try to dunk it. Dunk it on someone or throw it in for 2 points. It’s been going well so far.”
Sealed with a kiss
Chris Wilcox was assessed a $25,000 fine Sunday for an “obscene gesture” toward an in-house camera at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia during Friday’s 95-94 loss to the 76ers.
The arena’s “Kiss Cam,” which finds couples in the crowd and encourages them to kiss, jokingly centered on Wilcox and teammate Jared Sullinger, and Wilcox responded with the one-finger gesture that prompted the fine. Sullinger said after the game that Wilcox more waved his hand to whisk the camera away than make the gesture.
Wilcox was not suspended and will be available Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks at the Garden.
The Celtics recalled center Fab Melo from Maine of the NBADL, giving them some big-man depth for the upcoming three-game trip to Houston, San Antonio, and Chicago. Melo averaged 6.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.2 blocked shots in five games with the Red Claws.
Melo has been with the Red Claws for the past month after spending training camp and preseason with the Celtics. He was expected to stay in Maine for the long term but now will join Wilcox and Jason Collins as part of the center core.
The Celtics have one available roster spot and have been interested in acquiring a big man but coach Doc Rivers said the club is going to be patient with that decision.