Sullinger proving worthy of Celtics starting job

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Sullinger proving worthy of Celtics starting job

BROOKLYN, NY When Jared Sullinger slipped down to the Boston Celtics on draft night, there was a sense that the C's were stealing a top-10 talent.

Not only has Sullinger proven himself worthy of being a regular in the starting rotation, but he's taken a step further and has positioned himself to be a starter.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has not decided whether to start Brandon Bass or Sullinger at power forward.

But the more Rivers talks about that position, the more he sounds like a man who at the very least is leaning towards giving the starting nod to Sullinger.

When asked whether he likes Sullinger with the starters, Rivers said, "I do. I don't know if that's the way I'm going to go, but I do like that.

Rivers added, "and I like Brandon with the second unit because he gives us another scorer, a guy who can play."

The evolution of Sullinger from the disappointment of draft night into a potential starter for a title contender as a rookie, speaks volumes about how he has taken all the criticism and questions about his health and responded with the only thing he can to silence them - play great basketball.

"He still has a lot of work, but he does a lot of good things," Rivers said. "He has a veteran mind; does not play like a young guy, except he makes rookie fouls, he does things. But he's just a good spirit. It's good to have him in the locker room."

And it's even better having him on the floor.

As much as his success during the preseason can be attributed to shear talent, Sullinger is quick to say that his willingness to embrace the teachings of all of the team's veterans - and not just the big men like Kevin Garnett - has been vital to his early success.

"You have to come in, you have to learn," said Sullinger, who then rattled off the name of just about every Celtic player older than 25 years of age as someone who has helped him thus far. "You got so many things you are hearing, so many things you are soaking up, you have no choice but to be better everyday."

But as impressive as Sullinger has been, Rivers is still noncommittal on him or Bass as the team's regular starting power forward.

"Having said that, I don't know what type of team we have," Rivers said. "And I'm not sure we'll have a set lineup this year. I think there will be nights where they will have a quick four (power forward) and we'll start Brandon. And there will be nights when they don't, and you start Sully."

Starting or coming off the bench, it doesn't matter to Sullinger.

He's just happy to help anyway he can for a Celtics team that was quick to dismiss the questions surrounding his health and selected the two-time All-American with the No. 21 overall pick.

"It was a blessing in disguise," Sullinger said of being passed over by more than half of the league. "The way this team is made up, how close knit we are, it's helping me out tremendously."

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


 

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
 
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
 
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
 
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
 
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
 
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
 
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
 
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
 
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
 
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”