In the Bonus: Celtics struggle without Sullinger

In the Bonus: Celtics struggle without Sullinger
February 24, 2014, 5:00 pm
(AP Photo)

The Celtics didn't need to see Jared Sullinger (mild concussion) sidelined to realize his value. But when you consider how the Celtics have fared in his absence, the Sullinger Effect is undeniable.

Consider tonight's game against Utah will be the fourth this season Boston has played without their leading rebounder.

The outcome in the first three? All Celtics losses. And it's not like those losses -- against Toronto, Charlotte and Sacramento -- were to elite teams, either.

Focusing on the game's outcome certainly speaks to Sullinger's impact. But taking it a step further, the statistics only strengthen the case that Boston is a much weaker team without the second-year big man on the floor.

With Sullinger in the lineup this season, Boston is averaging 95.3 points per game. Without him, that average drops to 89.3.

More than anything else, the presence of Sullinger appears to allow for better shot attempts and thus, a higher shooting percentage. Boston connects on 32.9 percent of its threes when Sullinger plays, and just 29.1 percent when he doesn't. A similar result exists when you look at the Celtics' mid-range shooting numbers which are 40.5 percent when he plays and 39.3 when he's out.

And while Boston's big men have done an admirable job trying to fill the void left by Sullinger's absence, the numbers don't lie. Boston is not only better statistically, but also where it counts the most -- wins -- when they have Sullinger in the lineup.