Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 3/19/13
BOSTON — Some players claim to tune out crowd noise. Not Jeff Green. At least, not on Monday. Not when he was putting together a career outing that may have finally led Celtics fans to embrace him. When Green stepped to the foul line for the third of his four and-one buckets of the night, his free throw routine had a soundtrack. As Green spun the ball in his hands, the TD Garden crowd stomped and chanted, “Jeff GREEN,” until his foul shot swished through the net. Green, who would wind up with a career-high 43 points, did not try to play it cool afterward when he was asked about the reception he received from the fans. “Oh, I heard it,” Green said. On a night that should have been about Green’s acceptance into the True Celtic fold, LeBron James and the Miami Heat hijacked the fairy tale. Despite leading by as many as 17 points, the Celtics squandered too many opportunities and made too many mistakes to beat the best team in the NBA, coming out with a 105-103 loss. That likely would have been the case regardless of Green’s offensive output or the presence of Kevin Garnett, who missed the game with the dual threat of an illness and a strained groin. Quietly, even as the Celtics maintained the lead from late in the first quarter through the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, a collection of fatal oversights were slowly dooming them. Because of that, the Celtics were unwilling to take solace in nearly snapping the Heat’s winning streak, which grew to 23 straight games. “[I have] the same feeling I would have if we had KG and [Rajon] Rondo, honestly,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “I believed we were going to win the game before the game. I thought we were going to win the game during the game. And I thought we should have won the game.” Paul Pierce said he takes some positives from every loss, although he struggled to think of any in the immediate aftermath of this one. Green and Jason Terry were extremely reticent after the Celtics were outscored 22-7 in the final eight minutes and failed to capitalize on several chances to tie or go ahead late in the game. When 34-year-old Shane Battier was able to chase down Green and knock the ball away in the closing seconds, it was clear the Celtics had used up their trump cards. The mistakes were more than the Celtics’ 20 turnovers, the 10 offensive rebounds they let the Heat grab or the 50 points in the paint they allowed Miami to score. The tone was set early, when defensive confusion led Green to pick up James late in a first-quarter possession, leaving the reigning league Most Valuable Player unguarded until he had built a head of steam and was within a step of the rim. James, of course, scored easily on the play. Mix-ups like that became commonplace as the Celtics had trouble with their rotations. The disorder was not surprising, given Garnett’s absence, but it was damning nonetheless. “Definitely, turnovers had an effect, offensive rebounds late, missed assignments late in the game — a number of things,” Pierce said. “We had a number of mistakes, and with this team now, with all the injuries we’ve got, we have no room for error.” The Celtics have confidence they can play with the Heat in the playoffs, when they presumably will have a healthy Garnett, but they insist they had that confidence already. They have proven they can beat the Heat without Rondo and now proved they can almost beat the Heat without Garnett. But moral victories are so two months ago for the Celtics. A top-four seed in the Eastern Conference is within reach. They are rounding into form at just the right time for a serious title contender. They are one of the few teams that looks across the hardwood, sees the hulking mass known as LeBron James and does not blink. That is why Green’s words after the loss stood out as much as his stellar play. He was in no mood to celebrate his offensive explosion, no matter how much prodding he received. “I’m mad we lost,” Green said. “It sucks. That’s it.” Yes, Boston, Green heard your chant on Monday. Forgive him for not basking in the adoration. Nice moments mean nothing in defeat, which is pretty much the way a True Celtic looks at things. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ronda Rousey knocks out Bethe Correia in 34 seconds

Von Miller earns dismissal from NFL’s drug program

Ian Kennedy watches birth of daughter on FaceTime before start

Matt Williams wants Bryce Harper to stop getting ejected

Five most underrated players in the NFL


Larry Lucchino stepping down as Red Sox CEO

Las Vegas Mob Museum to open FIFA corruption exhibit

Does NFL have a motive to settle with Tom Brady?

Big Ten coaches opposed to 9-game conference schedule

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Hill arrested for reckless driving, clocked going 107 mph

Danny Garcia beats Paulie Malignaggi, remains undefeated

Bobby Wagner, Seahawks agree to contract extension

Blount won't talk about reported failed conditioning test

Greg Hardy helps pay Cowboys fans to fly anti-Eagles banner

Report: 7-foot Aussie center to join Kentucky's 2015 class

Eagles trade CB Brandon Boykin to Steelers

Jack Del Rio: Crabtree ‘stood out’ at first Raiders camp practice

Browns owner: ‘We haven’t given up on Johnny Manziel’

Junior Seau’s daughter will speak at Hall of Fame induction

Golden State Warriors: the rich get richer

NFL, Brady could settle to avoid appeal documents going public

Miguel Herrera apologizes for costly Philly airport fight

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Examining the state of the NFL

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

David Price traded to Blue Jays

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker