Sullinger looks to get plenty of burn early on for Celtics

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Sullinger looks to get plenty of burn early on for Celtics

BOSTON As an NBA rookie, gaining the trust of the coaching staff and teammates is essential to growth.

That growth is followed by opportunity.

And opportunity leads to success, struggles or for most talented rookies, a little bit of both.

But one thing is clear with the Celtics finishing off the preseason portion of their schedule on Sunday: Sullinger is going to play, possibly as a starter.

For a player who has never lacked confidence, the idea of even being in the discussion to start as a rookie this soon is a bit of a shock.

"We got a lot of guys that have been in the league for a long time; couple dinosaurs but I ain't gonna point them out," quipped Sullinger. "I'm surprised. I'm very surprised. But that comes with hard work and dedication to the game and just never cheating yourself."

And basketball smarts, which is what most of his teammates believe separates him from other rookies in past years with the C's.

"(Sullinger is) probably the smartest rookie we've had since I've been here," said Boston's Rajon Rondo. "He's very intelligent, high basketball IQ, and he's very unselfish."

Added Pierce: "He's definitely beyond his years as far as basketball IQ and what he's capable of doing."

And his impact has come without too many plays being called for him.

"He doesn't need a play called for him," Rondo said.

But he's still a rookie, prone to making rookie mistakes such as fouling too much.

During a recent preseason game, Rivers elected to keep him on the floor even after he got into foul trouble.

"He can't play enough minutes," Rivers said.

And there's a chance the minutes he does get will come with the starting lineup.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers had him and Brandon Bass both spend time with the starting unit, with both playing well. However, Sullinger's play generated more interest due to him being a rookie while Bass' game is a known commodity.

"I'm not looking for one thing," Rivers said. "I want to try different lineups. Eventually, one we'll like a lot."

And that lineup may indeed include Sullinger, who was chosen by a panel of NBA general managers as the "rookie to most likely be a 'sleeper' success" this season.

"I could care less," said Sullinger about the possibility of starting. "I just want to win. That's my main objective. For everybody who thinks I'm gonna start or come off the bench, as long as we win I'm fine."

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Williams surprises with big first half

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Williams surprises with big first half

BOSTON – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Game 5 between Boston and Cleveland as the Cavs have a comfortable 75-57 lead.

STARS

LeBron James

He is definitely in triple-double mode tonight, tallying 20 points along with seven rebounds and seven assists at the half while shooting a blistering 7-for-8 from the field primarily on lay-ups and dunks.

Avery Bradley

The deficit is huge, but it hasn’t stopped Avery Bradley from playing with the kind of focus and desperation that sadly, most of his teammates are lacking tonight. He has 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting.

 

STUDS

Deron Williams

Easily the biggest surprise of the game tonight, D-Will looks like the D-Will from a few years ago that was viewed as one of the top point guards in the NBA. He has 14 points at the half on 5-for-6 shooting.

Jae Crowder

The Celtics have to be careful with Crowder in the second half. He has 11 points on 3-for-5 shooting and is doing a good job of attacking the Cavs defense and getting to the free throw line. But he also has three personal fouls.

Kevin Love

Once again Kevin Love got off to a fast start for the Cavaliers, and has 12 points along with seven rebounds at the half.

Kyrie Irving

Like the rest of the Cavs, Irving has also had a solid start shooting the ball. He has 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting to go with three assists.

 

DUDS

Kelly Olynyk

He’s in the starting lineup ahead of Amir Johnson for his ability to help space the floor with his shot-making. So far, shot-taking is all Olynyk has done in the first half. He’s scoreless at the half, missing all four of his shots from the field while grabbing just two rebounds.

 

Brown (hip) and Johnson (shoulder) will play in Game 5

Brown (hip) and Johnson (shoulder) will play in Game 5

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are far from being healthy heading into tonight’s must-win Game 5, but they will have all of their players available with the exception of Isaiah Thomas (hip).

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown (right hip) was questionable heading into tonight’s game, but he told CSNNE.com earlier that he was planning to give it a go tonight.

Boston head coach Brad Stevens confirmed later on that the 6-foot-7 rookie would in fact play tonight.

His presence tonight is one of the many keys to Boston’s efforts to keep their season alive.

They trail Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, with a loss tonight ending their season and with that, sending the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals for the third straight season.

Boston’s Amir Johnson (right shoulder) did not play in Game 4, but will be in uniform and available to play tonight. Stevens said the 6-foot-9 veteran was healthy enough to play in Game 4 but Stevens elected to keep him out of the game because he wanted Johnson to have more than one day to rest his shoulder before potentially playing him again.

In other injury-related news, Stevens confirmed comments made earlier in the day by Danny Ainge regarding Isaiah Thomas’ right hip injury which led to the Celtics shutting him down for the playoffs after the injury proved to be too much for him to play through at halftime of Boston’s Game 2 loss.

Speaking during 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show, Ainge said there was “a lot” of inflammation around the affected joint on Thomas’ right hip.

“It had gotten worse from the MRI’s he had before,” said Ainge who added that it would have been “irresponsible to allow him to play anymore.”

Said Stevens: “It sounds to me like the course of action right now … is let the inflammation go down a little bit.”

Ainge said earlier that because of the inflammation, it will likely be at least a couple weeks before Thomas and the Celtics will know if he will require surgery or whether another form of treatment will be needed.

Because of that uncertainty, Ainge stressed that Thomas would not return to play in this series even if it were closer.

“No. No way. He’s done (for the season),” Ainge said.