The pad on his elbow notwithstanding, there didn’t seem to be any negative repercussions from Jeff Green’s fall in the third quarter Friday night. He went down hard, his teammates surrounding him in support, with Kevin Garnett calling for a doctor.
Positive repercussions? There were plenty of those, with Green turning around a lackluster performance. At the point of his fall, with 6:13 left in the third quarter, Green had 4 points on 2-of-3 shooting. He finished with 18 points and five rebounds.
“It kind of woke me up a little bit, kind of got my shot to start falling,” Green said. “I’m happy I fell.”
After the crash Green went on a roll, making 6 of 10 shots and generally helping lead the Celtics to a 94-86 win over the Golden State Warriors at TD Garden. He had 10 points in the fourth quarter, as the Celtics expanded a lead that stood at 7 at the end of the third.
If you believe Green, there wasn’t any need for the arm sleeve that he donned post-fall. As he said, in jest, “I didn’t hurt myself. I was tired. I wanted to lay there a little bit, catch my breath.”
Later, though, Green acknowledged, “My whole body hurt. Whatever hurts in the morning, that’s where I fell on the most.”
So, it seemed, maybe the fall was a good thing.
“I don’t know if he needs that jolt,” coach Doc Rivers said. “But listen, he’s human. He’s not going to play perfect every night. But then you look at his numbers and he has 18 and five. Obviously most of it was after the hit, but I also thought our spacing was better after that, too.
“It was some of him, but it was some of us, too.”
Fortunately for the Celtics, the fall didn’t keep Green off the court. His fourth-quarter play was crucial against a likely playoff team. Green bounced back from a 6-point effort Monday at Utah, which came three nights after a 31-point explosion in Phoenix.
Asked before the game whether Green is playing as well as he’d been before his heart surgery, Rivers said, “I think he’s in front of that, at least with us. With us, I think he’s past that.”
As for the fall, Rivers said he didn’t even check on Green. As he said, “I was talking to the refs at the time. We were having a conversation about golf.”
Green, meanwhile, was down on the court. He was subbed out, but returned with 2:22 to go in the third quarter. That was when he started smoking, scoring two of the Celtics’ next three baskets.
It made up for Green’s poor play in the first half, something Rivers attributed more to the Celtics’ poor spacing than to Green. Some of the blame went to the Warriors’ impressive defense.
“I thought Jeff struggled tonight,” Rivers said. “It was almost after he got down he came back in and played really well. I thought he kind of got it going.
“Every time, there were no driving lanes for him. We were small, and when you’re small, you should have a lot of driving lanes. I just thought we were sucked in just too much tonight.”
Before the game, Rivers said that Green had been more aggressive on offense, that he had been shooting the ball better, that his post game had improved, that he was taking the ball off the dribble more. All of that was on display Friday night.
And his teammates took notice.
“He was awesome tonight,” Paul Pierce said. “He really carried us that fourth quarter, took it upon himself to be aggressive.
“He’s coming into his own after a slow start, which you can expect. It’s tough when you take a year off from basketball and try to get back in the game. But I think since January he’s just been phenomenal, very consistent doing what we ask on both ends of the court, and he’s getting better and better as time goes on.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.