Brad Stevens grew up rooting for the Pacers.
When he was in kindergarten, he would write the scores of their games on a chalkboard in his family’s basement in Zionsville, Ind.
He wore jersey No. 31 at Zionsville High School in honor of Pacers star Reggie Miller, Stevens’s favorite player growing up. When Stevens was in junior high, he actually faced Miller in a 3-point shooting contest during a charity event. (Stevens didn’t win, by the way.)
So, it was a bit odd for Stevens, now the Celtics coach, to face the 10-1 Pacers Friday night at TD Garden.
“I grew up a Pacers fan and really that was the team I rooted for the first 36 years of my life,” he said before the game.
“And now, they’ve got their best team that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Of course that’s how it works, right?”
Sure enough, the Pacers won, 97-82, to improve to 11-1 while dropping the Celtics to 4-10.
Stevens is especially close with Pacers coach Frank Vogel. Stevens said they went to dinner in Orlando during the summer league shortly after Stevens was hired from Butler. The two talked for nearly three hours “just about all the little things that are coming.”
Said Stevens, “I’d probably ask all different questions now that I’ve lived it, that I’ve started to see it.”
At that dinner, Vogel said, “I was picking his brain. He’s a brilliant basketball mind.”
Vogel also said that while he was at dinner Thursday night in Boston, he was twice mistaken for Stevens, once by a server, then by another man on the way out.
The two coaches are young — Stevens 37, Vogel 40 — which might explain why Vogel is often mistaken for Stevens.
“It’s uncommon for it to happen here,” Vogel said. “Usually, it happens in Indianapolis.”
Vogel said his best advice for Stevens is to simply be himself.
“I think his demeanor, with what he had with his team at Butler, I think he’s gotta have the exact same way with his players,” Vogel said.
“I think he ran his team at Butler like this, a lot of college coaches don’t run their team like this, where it’s kind of a partnership with your players, not a boss-employee relationship. It’s a partnership. I think he’s always done that, so it’s just a matter of him continuing to be himself. And he’ll be successful.”
Jeff Green keeps going
Before the season, Jeff Green was tabbed as the Celtics’ “go-to” player.
Green is leading the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game, but he has been inconsistent, a trait that has been attached to him for years.
For instance, after scoring in double digits for seven straight games, he scored just 2 in a loss at Minnesota Nov. 16 and then just 4 a few days later in a loss at Houston.
In Green’s eyes, though, he’s still the team’s go-to player.
“Yeah, for sure,” he said recently. “I’m going to always feel like that, no matter what.”
Green scored 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting against the Pacers, his first game of 20 of more points since he scored 24 Nov. 9 at Miami, when he hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Green said that Stevens “draws up the plays. I just try to play my part in doing what I have to do. I can’t ask for the ball every time. I’ve just got to find other ways to figure things out for myself.”
Green, 27 and in his sixth season, said this role is a huge adjustment from the past.
“Now all the attention is on me,” Green said. “I’ve been the guy who has been the third option most of my career. Now, it starts with me, in my eyes. But we’ve got to figure it out as a team how we can get past that and how we can win as a team.”
Pacers center Roy Hibbert played with Green for three seasons at Georgetown and said he has faith that Green can be the No. 1 option.
“I just tell him it’s his team, you’re always going to have growing pains,” Hibbert said. “I had growing pains the past couple of years and they have a good GM, a good president, so they’re going to bring good, quality players depending on the cap. He’s a good player. I wish him the best, just not against us.”
Green’s top scoring average at Georgetown was 14.3, achieved during his junior (and final) season.
“At Georgetown, he played within the offense, did a lot of great things for us but the NBA is different,” Hibbert said. “The first couple of years, he was in Seattle/OKC with Kevin Durant and Russell [Westbrook], how do you tell somebody to take over?
“And then you’re playing with Paul [Pierce] and [Kevin Garnett] the past couple of years, two Hall of Famers, how are you going to tell somebody to take over?
“This is his first opportunity, so he’ll learn, still young. I have the utmost faith in him.”
Vogel started out in the Celtics’ video room under former coach Rick Pitino before eventually moving up to assistant coach. Coming back to Boston, Vogel said, always brings flashbacks. “Every nook and cranny of this building has some sort of memory of a win or a loss or an experience,” Vogel said. “Just like this whole city, when you walk around the city, so many memories here. Always great coming back here.” . . . Keith Bogans (illness) sat out. He has played 15 total minutes in two games this season . . . Rookie Kelly Olynyk left the game with a sprained right ankle and is questionable to play Saturday against the Hawks in Atlanta . . . Forward Jared Sullinger missed the morning shootaround because of an illness but he played through a “little fever” and finished with 13 points and five rebounds in 31 minutes. He said he plans to play against the Hawks. “The only way I won’t play is if I’m dying,” he said.