BOSTON -- Asked what a highlight-reel dunk does for him, Jeff Green shrugged and offered, "Nothing. Two points."
Maybe the answer should have been expected, but the reporter was incredulous. Nothing?!
"Well for my team, it's an extra boost of energy and you see the way the bench reacts," added Green. "The crowd goes wild. That helps us out. But it's two points at the end of the day. I just try to make a good play. It just happens to be that."
So, the reporter pursued, you're suggesting it doesn't get you going?
"You've seen me, same facial expressions, same demeanor," said Green. "I don't have any kind of -- I don't yell, I leave that to Kevin [Garnett]. I don't do the antics, the chest bump."
Then Green stopped, realizing he had caught himself in a bit of a lie. After a thunderous poster jam over Nikola Vucevic, he did his little Ironman/Superman rip-open-the-chest celebration that serves as a calling card in his first season back from heart surgery.
"I did it tonight. I did it tonight," Green said with a smile. "But that's because of [Jason Terry]; he wants me to do it. But my first thought is to get back on defense. I don't want [Celtics coach] Doc [Rivers] yelling at me."
Green got an earful from Rivers on Wednesday night for not being aggressive enough with a mismatch. Green responded by scoring a team-high 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting and was plus-20 over 29 minutes in Friday's 97-84 triumph over the Magic at TD Garden.
His night might have been highlighted by two "SportsCenter"-worthy jams (and his baseline Statue of Liberty dunk might have been the more impressive of the batch), but Green has been solid at both ends of the floor in recent games. Maybe it's no surprise that Boston's second unit has thrived during that same stretch.
"The second unit, we've been doing a good job of coming into the games, being aggressive, pushing the ball, picking up the intensity of the game, and that's what we need to do in order to give the starters a rest," said Green. "We've just got to continue to do that."
Green stands to see an uptick in floor time as Rivers suggested he'll lean heavier on his top players after Jared Sullinger was lost for the season after undergoing back surgery on Friday. Green's next challenge is trying to shoulder some of the rebounding responsibilities lost in Sullinger's absence. Green grabbed four caroms on Friday night.
Garnett thinks Green is simply playing with more freedom now and allowing his natural abilities to take over.
"I think, more important throughout all of this, it's kind of given him some opening to where he can be free," said Garnett. "We're encouraging him to be aggressive. Doc's on his [butt] about being more aggressive. Early on, I didn't know if he could handle it, but I think he's falling right into that. Like I was saying earlier with the consolidation of responsibility, I think he's picking some of that up himself, being aggressive and initiating, and we're going to need that from him. Not just him, but from everybody on here. But he's playing great basketball."
* WHO DUNKED BETTER? Both Green and Courtney Lee had Garden-rocking baseline jams on Friday. So whose was better? "Definitely mine, definitely mine," said Lee. "But Jeff, he soars through the air, man. He does the Statue of Liberty so ... you can see how high he’s elevated ... I’m going to give him credit. I’ve seen the top 5 plays of the season [on the JumboTron], I think he was on there like three or four times, so he gets it.” Green and his highlight-reel collection teased Lee about his baseline jam. "Courtney's [stunk]. No, but Courtney, he got up a little bit. He showed some athleticism. I'm very proud of him to finally get one. It's good to see him get up in the air a little bit."
* RHAPSODIZING REDICK: A persistent buzz last month suggested the Celtics were interested in Orlando sharpshooter J.J. Redick, who scored a team-high 15 points for the Magic on Friday night. Rivers didn't extinguish those rumors by gushing about Redick. "He’s so tough. Gosh, he doesn’t stop. We jokingly asked Courtney, "Is J.J. Redick faster than you?' And it offended Courtney. I said, ‘Well, he’s six feet in front of you. I don’t know how he’s getting open.’ But he just never stops moving. And he’s so smart, and he’s a terrific player, he really is. I don’t think he gets his due." Then Rivers caught himself. "I’m done," he joked. "I don’t want to go any further. Tampering or whatever."
* CAPTAIN CLEANS MORE GLASS: Celtics captain Paul Pierce posted his third consecutive game with at least 10 rebounds while flirting with another triple-double (14 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists). Asked about the uptick in rebounding, Pierce said, "Well my responsibilities go up in other departments now. Not so much in scoring, but, hey, maybe some nights it will be. But in other departments when you lose one of the best rebounding guards [in Rajon Rondo], one of the best rebounding guys [in Jared Sullinger], I just try to put an extra effort and fill in in that department."