WASHINGTON — Jeff Green continues to leap over emotional hurdles after returning from a missed season because of surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. There was his first practice, then his first exhibition game, then first regular-season game, and, on Saturday night, there was his first game in his native area.
Green, who attended high school in nearby Hyattsville, Md., returned to the Verizon Center court, where he played for Georgetown.
“I hadn’t actually thought about it until my mom asked me for tickets,” he said. “They haven’t seen me play in almost two years in person. It’s going to be fun.”
Green scored 11 points in 16 minutes in the Celtics’ 89-86 victory.
Green had a splendid preseason, but was inconsistent in the first two regular-season games. He did not record a field goal in the opening loss to the Heat, then scored 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting in Friday’s 99-88 loss to the Bucks.
Green got off to a positive start Saturday against the Wizards, streaking to the basket for an uncontested dunk, then hitting a 21-foot jumper as the Celtics raced to a double-digit lead.
“There’s a different vibe from preseason to regular season and a different vibe from regular season to playoffs,” Green said before the game.
“It was an emotional game for me [against Miami] being my first game with what happened last year. I’m not a very, very deeply focused player — I’ll leave that to [Kevin Garnett] — but I think I got too focused with it being my first game back. I wasn’t right.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has seen Wizards rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal many times. Beal played his only college season at Florida, where Rivers’s son Austin originally committed before signing with Duke. Beal was the third overall pick in the draft and was immediately made a starter.
“Him and Austin have always been back and forth in the dumbest thing in the world, called high school rankings,” Rivers said. “I hate them. They actually used to like each other for a while, and then they started ranking them.
“But [Beal] is good, he’s a good player. He’s a solid, fundamental basketball player, a great shooter.”
Rivers said Beal reminds him of former Washington Bullet Jeff Malone.
Beal scored just 2 points and was 0 for 5 from the field in Saturday’s loss.
A Rivers in Maine
Rivers’s oldest son, Jeremiah, who played at Georgetown and Indiana, was a fifth-round pick of the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics’ affiliate in the Development League.
Jeremiah, who played in Serbia last season, was part of the Knicks’ summer league entry in Las Vegas, despite coming off ankle surgery. He has said he wants to give the NBA a chance before possibly going back overseas.
“That’s pretty cool, I just wanted to cut down on my travel,” said his father. “So now that he’s in Maine, I can drive up to watch him.
“It’s great for Jeremiah. He’s been injured all summer. He tried to play with the Knicks coming out of surgery and it was almost crazy that he even tried to play in the summer league. Hopefully, I can get up and see him play a couple of times.”
Rivers said he would alter his starting lineups depending on matchups, and he did against the Wizards, going with rookie Jared Sullinger at power forward against Washington’s . Sullinger finished with 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 personals in 30 minutes. Brandon Bass started the first two games at power forward, averaging 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 27.5 minutes. Rivers said Bass was the bright spot in an otherwise dreadful performance against Miami, scoring 15 points and pulling down 11 rebounds . . . The Wizards entered their home opener without guard John Wall (stress injury, right knee) and center Nene (plantar fasciitis, left foot). Former UConn star A.J. Price started in Wall’s place and was 3 for 10 from the field . . . Chris Wilcox, who missed most of the preseason with a strained lower back, played eight minutes. The only sign of it on the scoresheet were two fouls.