Jerebko trying to make it tough to take him out of starting lineup


BOSTON – Lineup changes for the Celtics might as well be written in disappearing ink when you think about how quickly they change.
Jonas Jerebko, a starter in Boston’s past four games, knows this all too well.
But to his credit, he is making a strong case that if there is another lineup change (and there will be when Avery Bradley returns), his place with the first unit should remain solid.
“That’s what I want to do, I want to make it impossible for him [Celtics coach Brad Stevens] to take me out,” Jerebko told “I want to play as many minutes as I can; I want to help the team as much as I can.”
He has done just that since entering the starting lineup on Jan. 25 against Houston.
While the play of Isaiah Thomas has certainly been the key to Boston’s recent run of success, Jerebko’s impact has been hard to ignore as well.
“He’s a versatile guy,” said teammate Jae Crowder. “He does a good job of bringing that energy, doing what we need him to do.”
The Celtics have plenty of guys who can score and Jerebko is one of them. But when he’s in the game, his focus is on playing with a high level of energy, helping on the boards and defend at a high level.
In Monday’s 113-109 win over Detroit, Jerebko grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds. And in a 30-point blowout of Orlando last week, Jerebko chased down Bismack Biyombo in the first couple of minutes and blocked his dunk attempt, a play that the Celtics converted into points when Thomas threw a lob to Jaylen Brown for an easy score.

Those are the kind of plays Jerebko delivered in spot-duty coming off the bench. And now that he’s on the floor more, he’s showing an ability to bring that kind of energy and effort on a more consistent which will make it all that much tougher for coach Stevens to shift in a different direction with his starters.
“I’m ready to do whatever coach needs me to do,” Jerebko said. “But as long as I’m in there, I’m going to keep playing the same way.”
In the five games Jerebko has started this season, he’s averaging 4.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 22.8 minutes per game. Coming off the bench, his numbers are similar in most categories – 4.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 16.5 minutes per game.

That energy and effort that Crowder referenced to when talking about Jerebko, can be seen in how his play has contributed to what has been arguably the best run of the season by Boston.
In the past four games, the Celtics rank seventh in the NBA in rebounding percentage (.526), which is a significant jump from being at or near the bottom rebounding most of this season.

The Celtics’ defensive rating in the past four games is 101.3, which ranks fourth in the league.
Of course, all of that can’t be attributed to Jerebko alone.
But seeing how active he was on the boards in Boston’s 113-109 win over Detroit and the hustle he has shown going after loose balls and grabbing tough rebounds, it’s understandable why Jerebko feels he’s doing what he has to do in order to remain a starter.
“It’s a lot easier when you know you’re starting and you know you’re gonna get in there and get some good minutes,” Jerebko said. “But I’ve been in all situations in this league; from starting, coming off the bench playing very few minutes, coming off playing a lot of minutes. And obviously, it’s a lot easier when you’re starting. You know what you’re gonna do.”
For Jerebko, that means staying ready for whatever task he’s assigned to carry out because by doing so, it’s the only way to assure his role won’t disappear.  

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