A day after Jeff Green scored a career-high 43 points in a 105-103 loss to the Miami Heat, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge defended Green’s consistency and development during an appearance on the “Felger and Massarotti” show on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
“I don’t expect Jeff to have games like that every night, obviously,” said Ainge. “Jeff has been playing very good basketball over the last 25 games.
“Obviously, 43 points and 7 rebounds and 4 blocked shots are unique performances and out of the ordinary, but you see what Jeff is capable of doing.”
Over his last 23 games, Green’s averages per 36 minutes are 17.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks, with 50 percent field goal shooting, 39.7 percent 3-point shooting, and 84.2 percent free throw shooting. In light of Green’s breakout game Monday night, Ainge was asked to defend subpar outings like the 2-for-11, 8-point performance Green put up in Oklahoma City March 10.
“That’s like taking away from a pitcher that throws a no-hitter,” said Ainge. “Obviously he’s not going to be able to throw a no-hitter every time, and then the next outing he goes out and gives up six runs and you say, ‘Which guy is he?’
“That’s sports, that’s the nature of the game. Jeff Green is not a LeBron James, not Kevin Durant, not Larry Bird. He’s a really good player for us, and a very important player for us. And I think he’s getting better for us every time.
“We don’t expect Jeff to go out there and get 30, or even 25, every night.”
Asked if he expected Green to “be the next Paul Pierce,” Ainge said, “I don’t think it’s fair to expect from Jeff what we got from Paul, because Paul is arguably the best offensive player we’ve ever had in their amazing history. So I think it’s unfair to put the expectations of being Paul Pierce on him.
“But as an heir apparent, as our starting small forward at some point when Paul no longer plays, I think that’s a fair expectation.”
The Celtics seem to have Miami’s number, even if the Heat won Monday’s game. Is a seven-game series win over the Heat possible with a healthy Kevin Garnett?
“Sure,” said Ainge. “I think anything can happen. Listen, everybody knows the Heat is the best team right now. They have the most room for error. We have to play top-notch, we have to get a lot of good performances out of a lot of people. That’s what makes the NBA playoffs so much fun.”