Is the torch being passed from Garnett & Pierce to Jeff Green?

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At today’s media availability at Waltham, Green was asked about whether the Knicks and the rest of the NBA should take notice of his good play:

“I hope so. I’ve been working hard. The playoffs are where players are made. Hopefully people are starting to take notice of what I can do. I mean, I know what I can do. I don’t care what other people think. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m just trying to win games and win for my team.”

In Games 3 and 4 at the Garden, you could see Green getting more comfortable with a leadership role on the team. At the beginning of the season, he seemed tentative and he had this complimentary attitude when it came to playing with the veterans. He was more than happy to take a back seat to Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, and even Jason Terry. At times, he suffered from fatigue and people were all too eager to call him a bust.

Now, he’s the one rallying the troops in huddles and ramping up the crowd after an and-1.

“The playoffs are where players are made.” -Jeff Green

He’s not at that point where he’s commanding double teams and necessarily creating offense for others, but he’s deadly catching the ball with momentum as the defense sucks in around KG and PP. Doc talked a lot today about how the Knicks have been successful trapping them and forcing turnovers, but over the last two games, Green has found success in acting as a release valve off the trap and attacking the paint (Check out RedsArmy’s analysis for more). Green got to the rim 7 times for eight points in Game 4 and was 7-8 from the free throw line. Even with the shaky performance in Game 2, he’s averaging over 20 points a game, all while taking his turn guarding Carmelo Anthony.

Whether or not this season and the rest of the playoffs are the proverbial passing of the torch between The Big Three era and the newest generation of Celtics, there is now little doubt that the 4 year, $36 million contract that Ainge gave Green last summer was a bargain. It’s been sixteen months since his heart surgery and Green is now playing with the confidence and aggression that will ease the pain of the eventual rebuild. We’ll miss The Captain and KG when they’re gone, but we’ll see glimpses of them in Green’s game for years to come. He’s an inside/outside threat like The Truth and has KG’s defensive mindset.

I’m pretty sure I saw him block a dead ball jumper from the Knicks on Sunday and that’s just awesome.

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Can the Celtics be future contenders with Jeff Green as one of the cornerstones?

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