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."