Green's Aggression in the Paint Paying Off
BOSTON – Jeff Green may have been left-oriented in terms of shooting Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors, but he was also paint-oriented, and that’s a good thing for the Celtics.
It’s no surprise that Green’s most efficient shooting location on the court this season has been the restricted area of the paint. What is a surprise is that despite Green’s incredible athleticism, less than 48 percent of his shot attempts have been taken in that area.
Such was not the case on Wednesday night. Green made sure to get to the basket as often as possible against the Raptors and that decision led to the game’s top scoring performance.
Half of Green’s 14 shot attempts against Toronto were taken within a few feet of the basket. As you can see in the shot chart to the right, the young forward was extremely effective in that area.
Green made five of his seven attempts in the restricted area en route to 10 of his game-high 20 points. His array of finishes featured dunks, finger rolls and layups off the glass. Two of his shots in the paint stood out as outstanding plays.
The first arrived in the second quarter after he and Paul Pierce ran a perfect give-and-go on a fast break. Green tossed an outlet pass to Pierce, and then Pierce gave the ball right back to Green without taking a single dribble. Green caught the ball in the midst of a full sprint and took off for a layup from just inside the free-throw line. Despite being fouled from behind and speeding toward the baseline, Green was able to utilize his impeccable body control to slow himself down and kiss one off the glass for an and-one layup.
Later in the game, Green showcased another impressive finish near the basket. He put home a driving layup on the left side of the paint – with his left hand. Finishing in the paint, in traffic, against athletic NBA talent, is not an easy task. Green, however, made it look like a walk in the park.
This is the version of Green that Boston’s coaching staff and Celtics fans love to see. There’s a word that describes his effort from Wednesday night, and that word is “aggressive.” Green is at his best when he is attacking the defense with confidence and force.
“I think he’s at his best when he’s just aggressive, period,” Paul Pierce said on Friday. “When he’s looking for his shot, when he’s out in the lanes running, when he’s taking one or two dribbles and getting to the hole.”
That’s exactly what Green did throughout Wednesday’s game. The problem is that we don’t see that version of Green every night.
Although Green has been much more consistent over the past couple of months, his season has been like a rollercoaster. Some games, like Wednesday’s, have been at the summit of that rollercoaster ride. Others, like Sunday’s eight-point effort in Oklahoma City, have been in the depths.
“We’re still working with him to be even more consistent,” said Doc Rivers. “He has these big games sometimes and OK games. We want him – I don’t want to go on any restaurants – he wants to be the McDonald’s. You know what you’re getting every time. Same quality. Every single time. Fries are always good.”
The moral of this story? The fries are always better when Green is aggressively taking the ball to the rack.