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Grizzlies Dispatch From Boston: Maximizing the Jeff Green Effect

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON - At times, Jeff Green has been the man the Grizzlies thought he would be - the strong-willed, athletic wing scorer whose play could put them over the top in the mighty Western Conference.

At others, like Wednesday night, he could score just 11 points, grab only four rebounds, miss a breakaway dunk, and be the lackluster, inconsistent player whose potential appears to be wasting away with every touch of the ball.

It's the story of Jeff Green's career, one filled with frustration for anyone who watches him regularly. On one night he could score 37 points and win the game on his own. The next he could miss a layup that may have iced the game vs. his former team, the Celtics, as time wound down.

If there's one guy who might be able to relate to Green, it's Vince Carter. Though it's a loose comparison - Carter has a good chance of being a Hall of Famer - the two, compared in their primes, have some similarities: raw athletic prowess, ability to take over a game, being the go-to guy on a lackluster team.

Make no mistake: Jeff Green is no Vince Carter. But with his newest change of scenery, the latter is someone Green could learn a lot from. It's something both of them have realized.

"We talk all the time, just trying to fine tune his game just to make the game easier for him from what I see," Carter explained.  "We ask questions, we bounce things back and forth. It's only been two months [since the trade]. I just think it's healthy."

Though Green certainly had his honeymoon phase when he began his Grizzlies career, his inconsistencies mean he's at times hurt the team just as much as he'd helped them. Carter isn't overly concerned.

"He's gotten a lot better, he's getting comfortable here with us. Any time you're getting traded in the middle of a season, you're playing catchup. You learn the offense all training camp, and now you're going to another offense, different terminology offensively and defensively, different guys, different philosophy, playing for a different reason," he said. "I think by the time [Green arrived] we were already playing for home-court advantage, and that wasn't the case here [in Boston]. So your mentality changes. It's everything - just trying and getting him acclimated to the way we play. We sit beside each other on the planes, so we have a lot of conversation just about that, and I think that has worked out for him."

Carter doesn't see any glaring tangible deficiency that needs more attention in the "fine tuning" process.  Rather, it's more about the mental side of the game, something Green has long been criticized for.

"It's just understanding everybody, these guys. And vice versa. And then understanding where he can get his shot and making the game easier for him and how he can make the game easier for everyone else," Carter said. "That's it."

It's a speed bump that Carter has a firmer grasp on because, even at 38, he still struggles with it himself.

"The role that he had here [in Boston] is a little bit different. He's not the go-to guy here, that's not the case, but at the same time you still need to have that go-to guy mentality and still be aggressive," the 10-time All Star explained. "I was trying to really mold the two together, it's where we're trying to work together. Because it's the same for me - it's my first year here, and we're just trying to mesh with everybody and understand what's asked of us."

So how do Carter and Green reach the competitive levels needed from each of them, while simultaneously adjusting to new roles? The answer, at least for the resident elder statesman of the Grizzlies, is simple.

"I mean, for all of us, in general, we continue to roll and our approach just has to be the playoff mentality each and every night. I think when we take care of that, we're a very good basketball team. We're very capable," Carter said. "It's just patience, man."