Doc on Sullinger's All-Star snub: 'He'll make it eventually'

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Doc on Sullinger's All-Star snub: 'He'll make it eventually'

BOSTON Kevin Garnett, who was voted in as an All-Star starter, will be the lone representative for the Boston Celtics during All-Star weekend with Jared Sullinger not being named to the 18-player roster (nine rookies, nine second-year player) for the Rising Stars challenge.
"He'll make it eventually," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Maybe not that team, but he'll be in the league a long time and I think he'll be happier with that in the long run."
The rookies chosen to the team were comprised of three big men -- New Orleans' Anthony Davis, Detroit's Andre Drummond and Ceveland's Tyler Zeller.
Sullinger said in an earlier interview that he wasn't giving too much thought to whether he made the team or not.
"That stuff is nice and everything, but I want to just keep getting better and help this team win games," he told CSNNE.com.
Indeed, Sullinger's growth as a player has been a factor in him evolving from a player off the bench into the team's starting power forward.
"He has improved as a player, but I already thought he was good when he came in," Rivers said. "I would love to say it was us, but it was him. He does all the work, all the reps and he had most of that before he got here.
"It took him some time to get comfortable with what we're doing and with himself in the league," Rivers added. "That's the biggest thing. But he's been terrific for us."
Sullinger's knack for offensive rebounding has been one of strengths thus far, along with his scoring touch around the basket.
However, Rivers also likes the fact that Sullinger is a good passer, something he recognized when Sullinger was in high school playing in AAU tournaments against Rivers' son, Austin, who plays for the New Orleans Hornets.
"Probably the college coaches who played against him realized he was a good passer," Rivers said. "But the NBA probably didn't know that. He's been trapped his entire life. He's been bigger than everybody since high school, so I've seen him trapped and figure it out and make passes through it."
But like most rookies -- especially big men -- Sullinger's defense has been a work in progress.
"He does a good job of fouling," quipped Rivers who then added, "He's been terrific. He's very, very smart and I think he learns each guy each night each time he plays someone different. He's been fooled a lot and the next time we play that same team, he's not. That tells you he's learning."

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – There are 240 minutes of play in an NBA game, but Boston’s 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise).

That would be the amount of time left in the second quarter that LeBron James spent on the bench with four personal fouls (a first for him in the first half of an NBA playoff game ever) and Boston ahead by 10 points.

Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn’t about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.

But here’s the problem.

Boston’s 10-point lead when James left with four fouls.

Halftime rolled around and Boston’s lead was still at just 10 points.

Celtics players agreed that not finding a way to increase their lead with James out was among the more pivotal stretches of play in Game 4.

“They did a really good job of not letting it (the 10-point lead) get out of control while he was on the bench,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told CSNNE.com. “Every time we scored, they came back and scored.  They answered back with everything we answered.”

While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn’t as if the Cavs are a one-man team.

“They still have two All-Stars out on the court,” said Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. “With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they’re still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there.”

Irving had a playoff career-high 42 points which included him scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 14 points in the final 6:46 of the second with James on the bench.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and you know, you can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game, a lot of respect from myself, my teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him. He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him.”

James still finished with a strong stat line for the night – 34 points, six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.

As good as he was on the court, the Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not doing more with the time James on the bench in the second quarter which in hindsight, was among the bigger factors in them now returning home facing elimination as opposed to being tied at two games apiece in this series.

“What are you going to do?” said Cleveland’s Kevin Love. “You have to continue to fight through it. At halftime, we were down 10. We made some adjustments on the defensive end and we just fought; we needed to. They got everything out of us tonight in that second half, but we played more inspired basketball as well.”

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

CLEVELAND – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Tuesday night’s Game 4 matchup between Boston and Cleveland which ended with the Cavs rallying for a 112-99 win. Boston now trails Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving

He was simply the best player on the floor by a mile in Game 4 as he tallied a career playoff-high 42 points with 21 coming in the pivotal third quarter.

LeBron James

Despite picking up four personal fouls in the first half – a first for him in a playoff game ever – James bounced back with a dominant performance. He finished with 34 points, 15 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. He also had six assists and five rebounds.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He continues to be one of the more consistent Celtics in this series. In Game 4, he had 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists.

Kevin Love

Most of Game 4, Kevin Love found ways to make life difficult for the Celtics. He ended up with a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds with five assists and two blocked shots.

Avery Bradley

Boston’s Game 3 hero couldn’t deliver like that in Game 4, but Bradley still managed to score a team-high 19 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

 

DUDS

Boston’s sense of urgency

They had the Cavs in prime position to be beaten. But they didn’t play with the kind of effort and focus in the second half, that we saw through most of the first. And that 6:46 stretch in the second quarter when LeBron James was on the bench, and they didn’t increase their lead? That was a major, major factor in the game’s outcome.