Saunders consulting C's in playoffs

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Saunders consulting C's in playoffs

WALTHAM The Boston Celtics will have an additional guest with them for their playoff series against Atlanta - Flip Saunders.

The former Washington Wizards coach, who also coached Kevin Garnett for a number of years in Minnesota, will be traveling with the team when they face the Atlanta Hawks in their first-round playoff series that will begin on Sunday in Atlanta.

While the move may seem a bit unusual, here are a couple things to keep in mind.

Rivers has had an open door policy for fired coaches to come around his team during the season. Often they come to practices, but with the condensed schedule there have been few opportunities for that this season.

Saunders and Rivers are also good friends who have bounced ideas off one another for quite some time. Having Saunders around won't usurp any power from the current coaching staff.

More than anything, Saunders will be a consultant to the coaching staff, providing insight that could prove extremely beneficial in what may be a tougher playoff series than most might anticipate.

And despite his struggles in Washington that ultimately led to him being fired, Saunders is still considered one of the better offensive minds in the NBA. His best work has come with veteran-rich teams; a team like the Celtics.

While Rivers has certainly proven his acumen in terms of drawing up plays, he is well aware that having another set of eyes and ears around - and of course, someone he trusts - can do nothing but help the Celtics in their quest to bring home Banner 18.

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back in town with his new team, the Toronto Raptors who signed him to a one-year, $5.6 million deal after the Celtics rescinded their qualifying offer to him and thus made him an unrestricted free agent.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.”