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Doc Rivers on D&C: Jeff Green ‘could be a good defensive player’

04.06.11 at 10:21 am ET

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning, following Tuesday night’s 99-82 victory over the 76ers. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Asked if beating the Sixers was a statement win, considering the teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs, Rivers said it would mean more to a younger team. “All we got out of that game is that we played better in the second half, and that’s it for us,” he said.

Shaquille O’Neal left Sunday’s win over the Pistons with a strained right calf muscle. Rivers said Shaq will not play Thursday in Chicago. As for Friday vs. the Wizards: “I doubt it.” Sunday vs. the Heat? “Maybe.”

Said Rivers: “We’re going to be very cautious with him. I would like to play him a couple of games, but only if he’s feeling great. If not, we’ll just wait.”

Jeff Green has shown flashes of solid play since coming over from the Thunder, but Rivers said he needs more consistency from the young forward. “He looked great last night,” Rivers said. “We’re asking him to do a lot. We’re asking him to play two positions. But it does, it has to be a repetitive act for him every night, the same intensity level every night, and I think he’s learning to do that. And that’s good, because he can really help us win games.”

Green was supposed to give the Celtics a defensive boost, but Rivers said he may have been hampered by being forced to guard at two positions. “He could be a good defensive player,” Rivers said. “Is he a 3 or a 4? He’s a 3. He’s played 4 his whole career thus far. With Oklahoma he had no choice. They put [Kevin] Durant on the 3s and they put him on the 4s. ‘€¦ I think he’s a better 3 than 4 defensively just from the power standpoint. But I do think he can be a good defender. I think right now he’s an OK defender.”

Asked why Troy Murphy isn’t contributing more to the Celtics, Rivers said, “He’s been injured. I don’t think it’s any deeper than that. Yesterday was his first day back after one practice. ‘€¦ He’s not going to average a double-double with us. He’s just not going to get the minutes.”

Asked who is the easiest to coach on the Celtics, Rivers said, “I would say Kevin [Garnett] is as easy as they come. ‘€¦ You have to communicate with him at times just to keep him engaged offensively, which is strange, as good as he is. He’s so team-oriented. He would be No. 1.”

Former Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau has the Bulls leading the Eastern Conference. Rivers was asked what the main difference is between last season and this year. “I think it’s defense,” Rivers said. “And let’s be honest, they were a pretty good defensive team last year. But I think that the biggest difference, when you look at their numbers, they have improved defensively, not as much as you think, but to me what Thibs has done is he has them all bought in. You felt playing the Bulls, some of them were bought in last year. It wasn’t consistent. I think what Thibs has done is made them all buy in to defense. Now that they have, and they’ve had success, it’s an easier sell.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal
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