Sullinger's health a pleasant surprise at quarter mark

Sullinger's health a pleasant surprise at quarter mark
December 5, 2013, 4:30 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

WALTHAM, Mass. — Coming off back surgery in February, Boston Celtics big man Jared Sullinger didn't know what to expect from himself.

Being relatively pain-free at the quarter-turn of the season?

Nope. He didn't see that coming.

"I thought it would be a lot of curves coming into this season," Sullinger said. "I thought there would be a lot of down games, maybe low energy, maybe stiffness. That's pretty shocking considering what I'm coming off of with the back surgery."

Sullinger has emerged as one of the Celtics' top players, displaying an inside-out game that provides plenty of production in the present while displaying the promise of a bright future.

He ranks second on the team in scoring at 13.2 points per game while averaging a team-high 7.4 rebounds in less than 26 minutes per game.

As well as he's playing, Sullinger knows he can't continue if he doesn't put in the time to ensure that his body is ready to go every night.

"You have to stay on top of everything," Sullinger said. "I did my rehab. Now I have to stay with the pre-hab, make sure everything is great as far as the back goes and make sure I take care of my body; stretching, all that little stuff."

While Sullinger's play of late has caught the attention of many, teammates don't see a huge difference in his play now.

"The main thing was him getting healthy," said Boston's Gerald Wallace. "He was banged up a whole lot. His conditioning was off a little bit. Once he's healthy playing to his level, we all know what he can do down on the block."

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens says he doesn't know much about Sullinger's surgery, but has been pleasantly surprised by how he has performed after such a long layoff.

"He hadn't done anything for four months, for three months," Stevens said. "What I'm surprised with is how quickly he has picked up being an effective five-on-five basketball player. That's where the rust comes into play, when you get back on the court with four other guys. He's never had an issue with that."

And as good as Sullinger has been, Stevens is convinced he has plenty of room to continue growing as a player.

"He's in a really good spot from a playing standpoint," Stevens said.