WALTHAM — Jeff Green called it a “miscommunication.” Brandon Bass said, “It wasn’t no big deal.” Their head coach, Brad Stevens, summed it up by saying he “didn’t lose any sleep over it.”
In all, the verbal altercation between Green and Bass during the Celtics’ 92-91 loss to the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday again was downplayed by all those involved a day later at practice.
The argument occurred during the third quarter when both players were on the bench, and video appears to show teammates and assistant coach Jay Larranaga trying to separate Green and Bass.
Both are starters who played sparingly in the second half as Stevens instead played his second unit on a day when his first unit played terribly, scoring 35 points on 47 shots.
“We’re trying to figure out a way to win,” Green said of the altercation. “Like any team, you’re going to bump heads. Because somebody might see it one way, somebody might see it another. But when it all boils down to it, we’re both trying to figure out a way to win. And that’s what it was.
“We just had a miscommunication and you [media] just saw it. That’s it. It happens with every team. It probably happens more than you know.”
Said Bass, “It happens all the time, with anybody. When you want to win that bad, things happen. But it wasn’t a big thing. It was something small that was easy to correct.”
Stevens said he talked to both players about it.
“Yeah, but I didn’t lose any sleep over it,” he said. “Anybody that’s been on a team knows that those things happen. I would be concerned about it if it wasn’t two good people. I think Jeff Green is a great person. I think Brandon Bass is a great person.
“Both of them have acknowledged that it was a little thing and they’ve both moved on.”
Yet the argument came when the Celtics, who travel to Chicago to play the Bulls Thursday, were in the midst of losing a huge lead, as they had done in three straight home games entering Tuesday. It seemed as though their spat was a sign that tempers were starting to boil over.
“Frustrations always bubble up in team play,” Stevens said. “That’s whether you’re winning or losing, but at the end of the day, it’s about whether you’re moving forward or not. That’s why, again, they’re good people. We have good people in this locker room.
“I have no concerns with guys not being able to move on to the next day. That’s going to happen. Whether you’re on a really good team, or if you’re on a team that’s fighting just to win a game, those things are going to happen. Certainly, because of the amount of attention, because of the 82 games, the more you lose, the more it’s going to happen. With those guys, I’m not concerned about that at all.”
Stevens routinely has said that he prefers to stick with players who are playing well, a strategy that he again used against Atlanta.
When asked by a reporter how that strategy affects him as a player, Bass then asked the reporter, “How would it affect you? Can you give me some pointers?” Bass later added, “Let Coach do his thing. I just think that for us as players, we just have to be prepared to go out and be at our best.”
Green said he was fine with how Stevens distributed minutes against Atlanta.
“He has to do what he has to do to put us in a position to win,” Green said. “When the second unit has it going, you’ve got to keep them out there. There’s no reason to take them out.”
Is there concern that players will worry too much about being benched if they start to struggle?
“Most of the time, we’re going to be very consistent in our rotations, but there will be exceptions like [Tuesday] where you go against it and you go with the gut,” Stevens said. “There’s positives to that too, because people do have to play well. Production is a big part of this business.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.