Sullinger's play a lone bright spot for Celtics

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Sullinger's play a lone bright spot for Celtics

OAKLAND, Calif. This West coast trip was supposed to be an opportunity for the Boston Celtics to grow in their knowledge of who they are.

Well, two losses in as many games later, it's clear that the C's as a whole have a lot to learn.

But rookie big man Jared Sullinger is one Celtics player whose development is clearly on the upswing.

His play was one of the few bright spots for the Celtics (14-15) during their 101-83 loss to Golden State on Saturday.

The burly forward had 12 points off the bench to go along with a team-high eight rebounds.

With Rajon Rondo (right hipthigh injury) out and the Celtics' Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett both struggling to make a positive impact, it was Sullinger who kept a lopsided game from being a full-on blood bath in the first half which is when he scored 10 points.

"Just playing basketball and trying to get comfortable with this team," was how Sullinger described his play. "That's about it."

Most games, Sullinger's points come by him simply out-working opponents to get position or on put-backs following Celtics' misses.

But on Saturday, there actually seemed to be an occasion or two in which the C's called a play for him.

"We wanted to post him," Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledged after the loss. "We've only been telling our guys this all year that he can post, especially versus switches which they were doing a lot of."

And to his credit, Sullinger displayed many of the offensive skills that made him one of the top players in the country during his two seasons at Ohio State.

But this is the NBA where All-America status in college means nothing.

Players like Sullinger have to prove their worth, which he's gradually getting more opportunities to do as the season progresses.

Sullinger's improved play offensively has the potential to make him a viable option in the post which could do wonders for a Celtics team that continues to struggle at times generating any kind of offense in the post other than what they get from Kevin Garnett.

So despite the loss, seeing Sullinger play as he did in the paint is indeed something the Celtics can try and build on going forward.

"It gave us great post-ups, spacing was good and I thought he went for it and that's what we wanted him to do," Rivers said. "Sully can play."

Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

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Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

BOSTON – Before Brad Stevens addressed the media before the Celtics faced the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday afternoon, he had to take a moment to make sure he wouldn’t forget anyone who wasn’t able to play.
 
Yeah, the list was a pretty long one.
 
Tyler Zeller, Demetrius Jackson and Jonas Jerebko will not play tonight due to sickness. And Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will also be out with a timetable that’s starting to feel like it’ll be longer than anyone would want.
 
“I don’t anticipate Avery this week at all,” Stevens said. “He still has some soreness. Obviously we’re concerned about the long-term impact of a sore Achilles; what it means on that foot but also what it means when you compensate off it. But he’ll be back when he’s ready but I think he’s still a little bit away.”
 
Bradley, the team’s top on-the-ball defender and No. 2 scorer this season at 17.7 points per game, will be out for the sixth time in the Celtics’ last seven games because of the Achilles injury.
 
Replacing him in the starting lineup will be Marcus Smart whose status for tonight’s game wasn’t a sure thing.
 
On the Celtics’ pregame notes package, Smart was listed as probable with a sore right ankle injury. I asked Stevens about Smart’s status a few minutes ago, and he said the 6-foot-4 Smart will play tonight.
 
In his 15 starts this season, Smart has averaged 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 31.7 percent on 3's - all of which are better than what he produces when coming off the bench. 
 

Sale: “Time for both sides to do something different, I guess”

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Sale: “Time for both sides to do something different, I guess”

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- While there’s a deal of anticipation going into Spring training with the four Killer B’s, David Price and Pablo Sandoval’s shot at redemption and Rick Porcello looking to be something similar to his 2016 self, there’s one name that trumps them all.

Chris Sale.

The lankly lefty received an ovation from fans at the Friday night Town Hall, kicking off Red Sox Winter Weekend. With his consistent success, there’s reason to be excited.

But there’s also reason for apprehension given the way Sale’s departure from Chicago was depicted. But he’s made sure to clear the air.

“I wouldn’t say . . . ya know . . . I loved my time in Chicago,” Sale said when asked if it was time to leave the Windy City. “My best baseball memories are there [and] will be there forever. I love the city; I love the people in the organization.

“It was time for both sides to do something different, I guess. I talked to (White Sox Senior V.P.) Rick on the phone, I talked to (White Sox pitching coach Don) Coop (Cooper). We’re all cool, it’s fine. We understand where both of us are, it happens in baseball, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chicago.”

He didn’t seem irritated discussing the issue, and certainly wasn’t timid -- we all know that’s not in his DNA.

He genuinely seems excited to deal with the large sum of Sox fans and to call a new place home -- in a city his wife’s fond of no less.

But ultimately, he’s focused on winning, nothing else.

“Every time I’m out there it’s gonna be all I got,” Sale said. "Every time, no matter what. Can promise you that.”