Celtics ready for Nuggets adjustments

992339.jpg

Celtics ready for Nuggets adjustments

DENVER When Rajon Rondo went down for the season with a torn right ACL injury, there was a sense of uncertainty as to how the Celtics would play without him -- both among the C's players as well as their opponents.

Losing a player who dictated the team's play the way Rondo did forced a number of players to try to add a little something more to their game to make up for his absence.

Those kind of adjustments often take time to develop.

Nine games later -- eight of which were Celtics wins -- it's clear that the C's figured out quickly how to manage the game and even more important, be successful in doing so.

But this upcoming road trip that begins on Tuesday against the Denver Nuggets, will present the first real challenge of sorts for these new-look Celtics since they have been playing so well.

The first two opponents on this five-game West coast swing -- Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers -- are both teams that Boston defeated during its season-best seven game winning streak.

It will mark the first time since the Rondo injury that the C's will face an opponent for a second time. While it may not seem like that huge a deal, remember that this league is all about adjustments.

The C's have to come into these next couple of games knowing the element of surprise is no longer on their side.

"You're right, this league is all about making adjustments," C's Courtney Lee told CSNNE.com shortly before the All-Star break. "All we're going to be focused on is continuing to play good basketball, play with each other and for each other every minute we're on the court."

But first things first. Boston must put its thoughts squarely on the Nuggets, who came into their previous meeting having won nine in a row, while the C's had won six straight at the time.

The two teams played one of the best games of the season, a thrilling 118-114 triple overtime win for Boston.

A key in the victory was Boston's ability to limit the high-scoring Nuggets to less than a 100 points in regulation.

The Nuggets will surely look for ways to push the tempo more on Tuesday, as well as feed off their home crowd which has helped Denver get off to an impressive 22-3 record, including wins in their last seven at the Pepsi Center.

Boston's Kevin Garnett said he hasn't given much thought to the adjustments the Nuggets will make in this second and final matchup between the two this season.

"Mentally you have to be ready for Denver," Garnett said. "Their pace is incredible, especially at home. We just have to be ready; that's what it is."

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. 

MORE:

“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.”