Sullinger looks to move on from 'up and down' preseason

Sullinger looks to move on from 'up and down' preseason
October 24, 2013, 6:00 pm
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WALTHAM, Mass. — Jared Sullinger was back at practice on Thursday, admittedly more sluggish than he would like.

But that was a major upgrade for him considering less than 24 hours earlier, the 6-foot-9 Celtics forward was suffering from flu-like symptoms that kept him away from the team in their win over Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

"I was in the bed the whole time," Sullinger said, adding, "just trying to hold in all the food that I had the night before."
 
Missing Wednesday's game was just another bump along the way for what Sullinger admits has been an up and down preseason for him.

"Camp has been rough for me," he said. "A lot of ups and downs. One day I play well, the next day I play horrible. I just have to keep pushing through and keep playing."

But the role he has enjoyed as a starter in the preseason may not be there for him when the Celtics kick off their season opener at Toronto next week.

Replacing Sullinger in the Celtics lineup on Wednesday was rookie Vitor Faverani who had 15 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots.

Like most who watched the game, Sullinger came away impressed by Faverani's overall play.

"Vitor played great," Sullinger said. "His defensive presence was awesome. He also finished the ball. And so with Vitor in the starting lineup really helps us out."

Sullinger has often said that starting or coming off the bench doesn't really matter to him. Although Sullinger appeared in 45 games as a rookie last season, the Celtics were a different kind of team with him on the court with the starters.

While both his scoring (3.8 points) and rebounding (4) numbers as a starter were down from his season averages of 6.3 points and 5.9 rebounds, respectively, the Celtics were an impressive 4-1 with him playing with the first unit.

But there's no mistaking how much easier the game was for him with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett at his side.

There's no one on the Celtics roster that comes close to providing the kind of attention that the Garnett-Pierce tandem warranted, which in turn opened things up for Sullinger. That's why it's so important for Sullinger to continue working towards not just regaining the form he had prior to surgery, but figuring out how to elevate his game to a level that can help these underdog Celtics this season.

Sullinger feels he is closer to where he wants to be, but "I still have a lot more work to do."

He added, "It's not going to happen overnight. I have to keep plugging, pushing and keep playing ball."

And that latter point is going to happen regardless of whether he's with the starters or coming off the bench.

Brandon Bass is another possible coming off the bench this season for the Celtics.

"Brandon and Jared are both going to play huge roles on this team," Stevens said after Wednesday's win. "And whether they start or come off the bench doesn't really matter."