The squeakiest of wheels at Celtics games often can be misguided in their "I don't care if I embarrass my family" pronouncements that are heard above the rest. But the larger group is aware and generally right on target.

So it was that an audible groan flowed down from the Garden stands in the first half Saturday when Jeff Green passed up an open shot. It is clear the people know what he can do and desperately want him to be, you know, Jeff Green.

"Yeah, I know," Green said yesterday after producing six points and, of far greater importance, strong defense in the 97-81 victory against Miami in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. "That was a shot I should have taken.

"And the crowd is always into it. Every play, every movement — they're always in tune to what's going on out on the floor."

Green then tried to defend his occasional reluctance, saying, "I've got to just play my game. You know, playing with these guys, you tend to follow their lead. Kevin (Garnett) has done everything possible in the NBA — win a championship, several All-Star Games — and watching him be unselfish, you follow that. But there are times where I should be aggressive."

But although more offense from Green would be nice, his job against the Heat is largely to bother LeBron James as much as he can. Green was 5 pounds tougher at both ends of the court Saturday, but his part (along with Paul Pierce) in holding James to 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting was most appreciated by his coach.

"He was huge," Doc Rivers said. "I mean, it's a great example where probably in Jeff's career he's been judged on points scored, and maybe for the first time in his career he was as valuable as he's ever been without scoring. He scored a couple points, but his defense, his pressure, getting up, his deflections, him running the floor, stretching the floor for other people — that's the Jeff Green we want to see every night. It was great. He has to keep doing that."