Jonas Jerebko a big factor in Celtics' improved play


BOSTON -- When Jonas Jerebko finished last season as a starter, he didn’t really make a big deal about it.
And when he was sent back to the bench used primarily as a reserve, again, not a big deal.
So it’s no surprise that the veteran forward isn’t all that geeked about his recent stretch of play, which has been a key to the Celtics winning four of their last six games.
In the last six games, Jerebko has averaged 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting 78.9 percent from the field (15-for-19) and 77.8 percent on 3s (7-for-9). He also has a team-leading effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of .974.
Jerebko has also provided some much-needed energy and effort on the glass which has paid off in him grabbing 19.6 percent of the defensive rebounding opportunities he had while on the floor which is tops among the Celtics big men during that span.
“This past week has been a really good week for him,” said coach Brad Stevens. "His greatest strength is his ability to space the floor on offense for us, then mix up his cuts and energy to get baskets. And on defense, to guard multiple positions.”
And it is that latter point that really, more than anything else, has made Jerebko a mainstay in Stevens’ player rotation.
At 6-foot-10, Jerebko has the size and length to compete against bigger forwards and some centers.
But he also has underrated lateral speed, which is why he’s capable of at least contesting shots when he has been switched on to guarding small forwards or some guards.
What Jerebko has been able to provide from an offensive standpoint is a bonus.
“Just to be out there in any situation,” Jerebko said. “That’s one thing I want to do and something coach (Stevens) wants me to be able to do. That’s definitely something I’m out there for.”
And when it comes to offense, Jerebko says he’s intent on taking whatever opportunities the defense affords him.
“I’m not the one to force shots,” he said. “I’d rather find the open man, make the simple play. But I know I can shoot the ball. They can’t leave me open. That’s one of my strengths.”
His hot shooting of late aside, Jerebko has been among the better 3-point shooting big man in the NBA the past couple of seasons.
For the season, he’s shooting 42.3 percent from 3-point range while averaging 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds.
“I have to be a little more aggressive at times,” Jerebko said. “Maybe shoot a couple extra (shots) instead of hesitating. But I’m learning.”
More than anything, Jerebko has set a great example for his fellow teammates who, like Jerebko, may be in a more limited role than their talents might suggest they’re capable of playing.
“We just need everybody to be great at what they do best,” Stevens said. “Especially in the past week to 10 days, he’s been great at what he does best.” 

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