WALTHAM — They are two different teams in different sports on opposite ends of the spectrum: one on the cusp of a title, the other in the infancy of rebuilding.
But Jeff Green sees comparisons between the Red Sox and Celtics.
“They are my inspiration,” the Celtics swingman said after practice Tuesday.
“I’ve been watching them the last couple of years and nobody thought they would be at the point they are right now with guys who just came out of nowhere and played together. They are all on the same page. They are getting the job done. Now they have a great chance of winning the World Series.”
The Red Sox can clinch the World Series title — their third in 10 years — by beating the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
The Celtics will be out of town then, playing their regular-season opener against the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Not much is expected of the Celtics this season — and perhaps not for a few seasons as the franchise reboots itself in the post-Big Three era.
But Green, who is being asked to be a top scorer for the Celtics this season, said he has spent months thinking about similarities between the Red Sox and Celtics.
“Everybody’s been counting us out,” the 27-year-old said. “They did the same thing with the Red Sox. Now look at where they’re at, and how hard they had to battle to get to that point. We have to do the same thing.”
The Red Sox are one win from completing a historic worst-to-first journey from a season ago, and their roster lacks the star power that many other teams have.
“We’re in a similar position where we have guys who not a lot of people know,” Green said. “[Rajon] Rondo would be our [David] Ortiz. And we just have to follow his lead. We have to go out there, and play hard, and give it our all.”
But Rondo is sidelined while he recovers from knee surgery, and he may not be ready to play until December. Even then, it’s unknown how he’ll play when he returns, as this is the first major knee injury for the All-Star point guard.
So for now Green has to be more of a leader, a player whom, like Ortiz is with the Sox, the Celtics can rely on to produce, especially late in games as they have few other options.
It’s an entirely new role for Green, as he always has been able to defer to other scorers. And if this preseason has proven anything, it’s that adjusting to this role will take time, as Green, who averaged 10 points and shot just 32.5 percent from the floor in eight preseason games, often looked tentative and uncomfortable.
“It’s a learning experience, first and foremost,” Green said.“I’ve never been in this position where I’ve had to take an ‘X’ amount of shots, where I’ve had to focus on scoring. All of my career has been being a defensive player just running the floor.”
For the foreseeable future, Green will be caught between the player he has been for the first five seasons of his career and what he’s asked to do now.
“It kind of gets tough sometimes,” he said. “You want to get your teammates involved. You want to make the right play. But sometimes you have to be the guy to make the play.
“Sometimes I get caught in just trying to get assists, trying to help my teammates get a good shot, and I think I put myself in positions where I get turnovers or I force the issue. Where, if I’m just aggressive and I look to score, then there’s only one thing on my mind and that’s to get [a basket].”
When asked what he would tell Green to make the talented former Georgetown standout play more aggressive, rookie coach Brad Stevens instead pointed out that the whole team has been passive when it comes to shooting the ball.
“Our team has a tendency to pass up [open shots] and may not be aggressive enough in seeking their shots at times, especially off ball movement,” Stevens said.
“It seems like we’ve caught it and we’ve been hesitant and one of the things that I want our team to do is be ready to shoot the ball and don’t think twice about it. Step up with some confidence, step up like you know you’re supposed to make it, and let it fly. I think that goes for Jeff, but that goes for a lot of our guys.”
Near the end of an interview with reporters, Green declared, “I’m a great player.”
He has, at times, more than lived up to that description, and his 20.3 points-per-game average during the playoffs last season helped bolster his reputation.
But too often, Green, a career 12.8-point-per-game scorer, has been complacent and frustratingly inconsistent.
When Jared Sullinger spoke with reporters, he playfully joked that the key for the Celtics was for Green to simply shoot the ball more.
Green, who was sitting beside Sullinger during the interview, smiled and later said he never could remember another point in his career when he has been given such an order.
“So, I’ve just got to continue to remind myself to be aggressive, and, I guess, shoot first,” he said.
Shoot first, pass later. Which is to say that Green has a green light this season, even if it takes him a while to realize it.