For Sullinger, it's just a start


For Sullinger, it's just a start

WASHINGTON - Doc Rivers has vowed to mix and match his starting lineup this season.

The first switcheroo came Saturday night when he decided to put Jared Sullinger in the starting lineup in place of Brandon Bass.

Rivers' decision had nothing to do with Bass' play.

Coming into the game, Bass averaged a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game.

Still, there's no denying the impact that Sullinger, a 6-9, 260-pound rookie, has when he's on the floor.

His play was one of the keys to Boston escaping with an 89-86 win over Washington.

Sullinger had four points and a team-high tying seven rebounds.

"He understands his role," C's Paul Pierce told Comcast SportsNet following the game. "We don't give him a lot of touches, but he's a great rebounder. And the touches he's given, he has to be able to take advantage of it. He really fills that middle up. That's what we need."

Having such a precise role - rebounder - is something Sullinger is getting accustomed to.

Sullinger has usually been the biggest player on his teams while growing up. And with his soft hands and ability to finish around the basket, teams have called upon him to be a scorer.

In Boston, he understands that he has to be patient.

"I understand I've got to pay my dues," Sullinger said. "You've got Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce so they're all pretty much legit scorers. When they're in the game, you've got to understand you're trying to get them open. You play off them, and that's just when I try to rebound."

Garnett has been singing the praises of Sullinger throughout the season, something you seldom see him do when it comes to rookies.

"He knows how to play, without the ball," Garnett, who lauded Sullinger for having a high basketball IQ. "He blends well in with our strong group."

Garnett added, "Sully knows how to play the game. He's been in the different rotations, preseason. He's very comfortable with our starting group."

Rivers isn't going to commit to this being his starting lineup moving forward - or whether it will even be the starting lineup he'll use on Wednesday when the Celtics host the same Washington Wizards team.

But Sullinger gives them yet another option to work into the lineup, and another potential headache for opponents to worry about.

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

BOSTON – Here are a few odds and ends to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings: 
· The Celtics have won eight in a row over the Kings in Boston, with the last loss to Sacramento at the TD Garden coming on Jan. 19, 2007. Current Celtic Gerald Green was in the starting lineup that night. 

· Only six times in franchise history have the Celtics launched 38 or more 3-pointers in a game, four of which came in the month of November this season. 

· Speaking of 3-pointers, 36.2 percent of Boston’s shots are 3s. That ranks fifth in the league behind Houston, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Golden State.

· Don’t be surprised if Avery Bradley gets off to a good start tonight, especially from 3-point range. He’s shooting 59.1 percent on 3s in the first quarter which ranks second in the league. 

· Isaiah Thomas tallied 395 points scored in November, the most by a Celtic since John Havlicek had 406 points in November during the 1971-1972 season. 

· Boston leads the NBA in points scored (46.3 per game) by second-round picks. The Celtics’ second-round picks include Isaiah Thomas; Jae Crowder; Amir Johnson; Jonas Jerebko; Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey.

· The Celtics are 5-0 this season when they outrebound an opponent. 

· Tonight’s game will be Boston’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. In the first game, they are 3-1 this season. On the second night, they are 2-2.

Beyond the numbers: Kings offense will test Celtics defense

Beyond the numbers: Kings offense will test Celtics defense

BOSTON – When it comes to defense, the Celtics are quick to claim that it is indeed the foundation for which their team is built upon. 
Still, far too often this season, we have seen cracks in their usually Teflon-tough defense, the kind that ultimately means the difference between winning and losing.
The Celtics’ defense will once again need to step up and play well tonight against a Sacramento squad that has shown it can fill it up offensively of late. 
Sacramento (7-11) has scored 100 or more points in eight of their past 10 games. In that span, their 107.2 points per game ranks ninth in the league. 
In that same span, the Celtics have allowed opponents to score 100.3 points per game, which ranks 10th in the NBA in fewest points allowed.
And when it comes to winning, limiting teams to less than 100 points has been huge in Boston’s win total. 
The Celtics have held eight opponents to 100 points or less this season. 
Their record in those games? 8-0.
Within that limited scoring, Boston must also make sure teams don’t get into a nice groove shooting the ball. 
Boston is 0-5 this season when an opponent shoots 48 percent or better from the field. 
While there are several things Boston must do to be successful, having the right kind of defensive disposition ranks at or near the top of that list in their efforts to play with the kind of defensive success that gave so many hope that this would the year Boston would hold court among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

“We have to get a little more nastier on the defensive end and not let a team come in and get comfortable,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.