Celtics hope to keep Minnesota's Love off the glass

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Celtics hope to keep Minnesota's Love off the glass

WALTHAM Kevin Love spent a good bit of time after his rookie year working on his three-point shot.

For a burly power forward with questionable leaping ability and even more questionable athleticism, this wasn't exactly seen as the best use of his time.

But the more he worked on it, the better he became -- similar to what has transpired in all facets of his play which includes becoming a dominate force around the basket.

"Kevin Love is one of the best rebounders of our era," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "I know that's saying something early on in his career, but he really is."

While working for NBC Sports during the Summer Olympics in London, Rivers had a chance to see Love play regularly for Team USA.

"Two of those games early in the Olympics were kind of close in the first half, the U.S. would have been down by 20 but Kevin Love kept getting rebounds and you stare at it and watch it, it's an art."

You can add Paul Pierce to list of those impressed with Love's game, well aware that Love and Minnesota's strength -- rebounding -- is arguably the greatest flaw within the C's roster.

"Our main objective is to try and slow him down," Pierce said. "He's shown he can dominate the game with his offensive rebounding, and defensive rebounding. That's definitely an emphasis."

Celtics center Jason Collins played with Love in Minnesota during Love's rookie season.

"He's an extremely hard worker, great second jump," Collins told CSNNE.com. "Really anticipates where a rebound is going to come off and positions himself to be there to get the rebound."

Although a freakish knuckle injury has sidelined him for most of the season thus far, he has returned to action and picked up where he left off last season to rank among the NBA's top rebounders.

Love comes into tonight's game against the Philadelaphia 76ers averaging 21.7 points and 15.3 rebounds in six games this season.

But along with scoring and rebounding, Love's ability to shoot threes makes him an even more difficult player to cover.

While he has struggled thus far in shooting threes (19.4 percent), there's no mistaking he's a threat from long range the minute he steps on to the court which poses problems for most teams defensively.

Because of his size, he can score on most bigs in the post. When you throw in his three-point shooting prowess, he becomes a matchup nightmare.

"Kevin Love is such a different kind of player," Pierce said. "He's a power forward but he can step out and shoot the three, but he's an interior player when it comes to rebounding and doing all the dirty work."

And to see him knock it down now, Collins says, speaks volumes about his work ethic.

"He was practicing it, but it wasn't good as it is now," Collins said. "He was definitely practicing it and continuing to shoot it even when some of the coaches at the time might not have been comfortable with a four-man shooting 3s. But it shows that if you put the hard work in, put the time in, people will come around. He's really developed that part of his game."

And while his emergence last season may have caught some off guard, he's not sneaking up on anyone now.

"The guys know, they get the scouting report," said Celtics assistant Armond Hill. "They know what he's doing and how good he is as far as rebounding. KG (Kevin Garnett) and everyone else is aware."

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

BOSTON – The trip to the TD Garden is one that Jared Sullinger has made many times but never like this. 

The former Celtic was back in town with his new team, the Toronto Raptors who signed him to a one-year, $5.6 million deal after the Celtics rescinded their qualifying offer to him and thus made him an unrestricted free agent. 

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“I had a feeling it was going to go that way once they signed big Al (Horford), that they were going to let me go,” Sullinger said prior to Friday’s game.  “We were prepared for it. It is what it is. I’m happy these guys are doing well.”

And he hopes to say the same for himself sometime in the future after undergoing surgery to have a screw inserted in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot – the same foot he had season-ending surgery on during the 2014-2015 season with the Celtics. 

There’s no specific timetable as to when he’ll be back on the floor, and Sullinger is cool with that plan. 

“I don’t know. They’re hiding the protocol from me so I won’t rush; we’ll see,” said Sullinger who is still in a walking boot. 

The 6-foot-9 forward played well in the preseason and solidified himself as the team’s starting power forward. 

Now that he’s out with another injury, he’ll have to once again try and prove himself either later this season when he returns, or this summer when he becomes a free agent again.

For now, Sullinger is happy to be back in town, seeing lots of familiar faces, friends and ex-teammates that he says he still keeps in close contact with. 

“Some of these guys I considered like brothers to me,” Sullinger said. “IT (Isaiah Thomas), Jae Crowder to name a few. So I watch from a distance, I support from a distance. They’re playing well.”

In addition to his former teammates, the lines of communication remained open between him and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens as well. 

Stevens said the two exchanged text messages right before he had foot surgery, and afterwards. 

“Obviously, everyone here wishes a speedy recovery and hopefully he gets back on the court soon,” Stevens said. 

Sullinger has been an effective player during his time in the NBA, with career averages of 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 

But this will be the third time in his five NBA seasons that he will miss a significant amount of time on the court due to an injury or recovering from an injury. 

Stevens acknowledged that he feels for Sullinger who once again has to go through rehabilitation in order to get back on the floor.

“I like Jared a lot,” Stevens said. “He’s a heck of a player, he’s a really smart guy. Got a lot of respect for him and it stinks that he’s got to go through that but he’ll come back strong I’m sure.”