Gortat: Celtics "weaker" this year

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Gortat: Celtics "weaker" this year

BOSTON -- The memories haven't faded for Marcin Gortat. Two years after leaving the Orlando Magic, he still has not forgotten about the heated playoff games against the Boston Celtics.

When he returned to TD Garden on Friday night with the Phoenix Suns, he took all those games with him on the court. And then he dropped a game-high 24 points.

Usually I have great games against Boston, he said following the Suns 79-71 win. Every time Im coming here, it brings those memories from Orlando when we were battling here every year. Three games here, four games at home, or four game here, three at home. End of the year was always Boston. We had to battle these guys to get to the NBA Finals.

Last season, his first with the Suns, he averaged 16 points and 15 rebounds in two games against the Celtics. Fridays 24 points were one short of tying his career-high. He credited his teammates for getting him open and point guard Steve Nash for getting him the ball in the right spots.

I think we just did everything harder than Boston. That was the main thing. We battled, we ran the break, we had a lot of energy, and that was the most important thing, he said, adding, I feel easy to score on everybody with Steve Nash.

After becoming familiar with the Celtics over the years, Gortat noticed some changes in his opponent. Without Kendrick Perkins, he says their defense may be a bit weaker but they have improved their offense. He also noted the bench has several new faces, and he pointed out just that -- their newness to the team.

I think the new additions of the team, I dont think they know all the rotations, he said. Its going to probably take a while before they learn everything.

At the same time, he believes the veteran core are still going strong, especially Kevin Garnett. The only difference is, he is also getting stronger as the seasons go on.

They look great to me, Gortat said of the Celtics trio of Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. I wish to be in KGs shoes. Dont understand me wrong. He has a championship, hes a great player. Theyre going to have up and downs. Theyre not 18 years old anymore or 25. Im entering my prime years, Im 27 right now and obviously its going to be difficult for them to guard me. Im going to put up a lot of energy. Its not like Im a rookie, Im not making stupid mistakes anymore. Its just going to be a good tough game. Im going to compete with those guys.

On Friday night, he made that clear.

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. 

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“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.”