Celtics' Green, Lee adjusting to reserve roles


WALTHAMThe bulk of Jeff Green's NBA career has been spent as a starter. Courtney Lee has also spent a decent amount of his career with the first unit of the three NBA teams he played for prior to arriving in Boston.

Both are now key reserves coming off the Celtics' bench. Prominent roles, but different nonetheless.

And they're roles that both players are still adjusting to, which explains to some degree the highs and lows in their play this season.

That said, each is starting to play with more consistency at both ends of the floor, which should reap huge rewards for the C's as the season progresses.

Lee has had just three double-digit scoring games this season, with two coming in the last two games.

Green has also been an impact player off the bench lately for the Celtics, tallying double-digit points in each of the last two games and is now the team's sixth-leading scorer at 8.9 points per game -- and rising.

Of the two players, Green's play has been more notable. Not only for the shear numbers -- 18.5 points per game in last two games -- but also for the fact that they have come in the role the C's envision for him this year: A difference-maker coming off the bench.

"I'm just going with the flow," Green said. "My shot's been dropping. I've been attacking the rim. I just have to continue that."

And Lee has to continue listening to Doc Rivers, who had a talk with him about a week ago.

While Lee was showing signs of being an impact defender that the Celtics are looking for, it appeared to have come at the expense of him contributing offensively.

In talking with Rivers, Lee said he came away with a better understanding that for all the energy and effort he puts into being a difference-maker on defense, he has to put forth that same level of focus and intensity on the offensive end whether he's starting or not.

Even before he replaced Rajon Rondo for the last two games because of Rondo's suspension, there were clear signs that the message was sinking in for Lee, who has been a starter in about 47 percent of the NBA games he has played prior to this season.

As far as whether it's easier to be a starter, Lee said, "You get in the game, you get in the game. You have to make the most of it when you get that opportunity. I'm just going to go out there and focus on the things I've been doing and just stay aggressive."

Bringing forth great effort and intensity is primarily what the Celtics are needing Lee to bring.

With Green, it's a little different.

They want those same things from him as well, but the C's also need him to get buckets.

When he's on the floor, often he's the one Celtic who has a mismatch in the C's favor at the offensive end either as a big small forward or a quick power forward who can also stretch a defense with his 3-point shooting.

His aggressiveness in those roles has often been questioned because far too many times, he tends to disappear when he truly should be dominating his matchup.

Part of his struggles he says in coming off the bench, is figuring out exactly how to be most effective while staying within the framework of what the Celtics are trying to accomplish at that point in the game.

"It's harder to try and figure out what you need to bring each game coming off the bench," said Green, a reserve in all 17 games for the Celtics this year after previously starting 83.5 percent (263 out of 315 games) of his NBA career. "Each game is different. It's tough; it's a transition. Starting is a lot easier. You can work yourself into the game. But when you come off the bench, you have to be prepared. You have to be focused on how the game is going . . . it's tough.

"But you just have to find your niche and figure out what it takes and be prepared before you go out in to the game."

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