Steep Learning Curve

October 20, 2005

     Gerald Green got a good look at his new home last night. A really good look. From his front-row seat on the bench, Green surveyed the championship banners, the retired numbers, and storied parquet floor at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Born the same year the Celtics last won an NBA title, he is not old enough to remember the first incarnation of the Garden. He is unapologetically part of the future and a little hazy on team history, though he did pass a pop quiz at a recent practice by correctly answering that Tommy Heinsohn played for Boston. The question remains how long will it be until that future materializes. With Green averaging 7.7 minutes per game during the exhibition season, the correct answer would seem to be pretty long.

In what little playing time Green has earned, he has proven one thing: He is not quite ready for the starting lineup. While he has NBA range and athleticism and, with a little more time in the weight room, an NBA body, Green has yet to grasp NBA strategy on both offense and defense.     "That's probably the hardest part, knowing the system and the rotations and stuff on defense," said Green. "In high school, it's not like that. That's what I have to get adjusted to. I don't feel lost. I just feel like I need a little bit more experience, especially on the defensive side."

With the successes of Tony Allen and Al Jefferson last season, there are high expectations for the Celtics' top pick. But it's easy to forget that last year Green was starring for Gulf Shores Academy in Houston. Also around this time last year, coach Doc Rivers did not expect Jefferson to play much as rookie. My, how things change. Jefferson made rapid progress over the second half of the season as he began to understand the NBA game. Chances are Green will have similar eureka-type moments. If not, he has no problem patiently waiting.

"Coach Rivers is developing me slow, I guess," said Green. "When I get in there, I go out there and try to play my best. If I don't, I just try to encourage my team and try to find ways to get better every day. It's not really my decision [how much I play]. It's the coach's decision. I'm just here to get better and do what coach says. I always learn, especially in practice. Coach is always talking about what we need to do."

Added Rivers: "It's just going to take him some time. I'm not in a rush with him."

Jefferson rehabs ankle

Before the game, Jefferson was spotted working out with assistant coach Dave Wohl, moving around somewhat gingerly on his sprained left ankle. He then walked into the trainer's room for treatment with a slight limp. That said, Rivers said Jefferson "might practice" today before the team heads to Toronto for the second of three exhibition games in four nights ... Boston reached the midway point of the exhibition season and soon the rotation will start taking on regular-season form. "We're still going to tinker a little bit there [with the lineups], but we're going to pretty soon try to start to whittle down to some of the rotations that we're going to start playing in the games," said Rivers. "Even though it would be early for us, it's going to be pretty soon, sooner than it's been." ... Dress code aside, Rivers called for everyone in the league to be conscious of acting professionally. "The bottom line is what we have to keep improving is how we act," said Rivers. "We have to do a better job in that, all of us. When we carry ourselves in a professional manner every day, all of us, then clothes will not be a factor."

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