Sullinger not a lock to re-claim starting role

Sullinger not a lock to re-claim starting role
March 2, 2014, 1:30 pm
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BOSTON — After having missed three games with a mild concussion, Jared Sullinger found himself coming off the bench in the Celtics' Saturday's 102-97 loss to Indiana.

As it turns out, Sullinger might be in a similar role going forward. When asked about when Sullinger would be moved back into the starting unit, head coach Brad Stevens kept open the possibility that Sullinger would remain a reserve.

"Well, I don't know about the starting lineup thing," Stevens said.

In his absence, the Celtics have gone with a big man combination of Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries.

"We'll go from, we'll kind of play that the way we've played it and continue to play those ... when Kelly (Olynyk) gets back all four of those guys and also Joel (Anthony)."

But the way in which those minutes will be distributed remains to be seen.

Still, it's hard to imagine Sullinger not being a prominent part of whatever the Celtics are looking to do in the frontcourt. While Humphries and Bass have been arguably Boston's most consistent big men this season, Sullinger has been their most productive.

The second-year big man is averaging 13.1 points and a team-best 8.3 rebounds per game which includes a team-high 19 double-doubles this season.

Just to put that in perspective, the rest of the Celtics have combined for 24 double-doubles this season.

But Saturday's return to the court didn't go as well as planned for Sullinger (10 points, 4-for-12 shooting with six rebounds) or for Boston.

"I think he was rusty," said Stevens, adding, "but I think he did a lot of good things, he got some huge rebounds for us, and that's not an easy team to score (against)."

And Sullinger has proven himself in the past to be a difficult player to keep out of the starting lineup. In his first game this season, he came off the bench and played just 10 minutes. Since then, he has been a starter in 41 of the 54 games he has played.

Regardless of whether he's starting or coming off the bench, his role will remain an important one for this team.

"He's got a little rust he's going to shake off," Stevens said. "Hopefully (Saturday night) was the night."