Sullinger willing to give up his shot to help Celtics


Sullinger willing to give up his shot to help Celtics

Jared Sullinger knows how to be a dominating scorer. He also knows his role is about to change this season.
While some rookies enter their first year determined to establish themselves as an offensive presence, the Boston Celtics forward is prepared to make the necessary adjustments to fit into the teams system.
As long as we get a number put on to the left side instead of the right side, Im going to be happy, Sullinger told in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
After getting his first taste of the NBA in the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues last month, where he averaged over 12 points per game, Sullinger has returned home to Ohio. He felt he rushed some of his shots and is working toward getting acclimated to the speed of the NBA game. The 20 year old is applying the feedback received to his training before the start of the season.
The coaches just said I played really well and there certain things Ive got to get better at, Sullinger said. Pick-and-roll defense, understanding the offense a little more, understanding that theres a lot Im not going to be getting due to having Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo out there on the floor, and obviously Jason Terry. Theres a lot of shots I wont be normally taking, so Ive got to get used to it ASAP.
As a rookie on a veteran squad, Sullinger is ready to embrace his place among his teammates and contribute wherever he can. A dedicated rebounder (he averaged 10.2 boards per game last season), Sullinger is looking forward to crashing the boards and helping the team with second-chance points.
The Celtics are looking forward to him doing that as well. They finished last in the league in rebounding last season.
Ive got to find other opportunities to score, said Sullinger. Like I tell everybody, rebounding is one of my strong suits of basketball. Ive got to get ready for rebounding. Hopefully you dont miss a lot, but if you do, hopefully Im there to clean it up.
Sullinger has been working out at his alma mater in preparation for his rookie year. After playing basketball for nearly a year straight, he is currently taking active rest to benefit his body for the upcoming season. An NBA season is significantly longer than one in the NCAA.
When I say active rest, Im resting my body but Im still working out, but not nearly as hard as I was getting ready for the draft, he explained. I decided because Ive been going for a year straight now, non-stop. Last year at this time, I was working out with Ohio State. I took four days off after my season of college basketball and started getting ready for the draft. Im playing with the guys at Ohio State. Im working out doing spot shooting, pick-and-pop shooting, but instead of going for like two-and-a-half hours, Im only going for an hour. Im still lifting three times a week.
While back home, Sullinger, who left college after his sophomore year, has also been continuing his education in pursuit of a sports management degree, a promise he made to his mother. He took an online course at The Ohio State University and plans to pick up again next offseason.
Once he receives the call that it is time to leave for Boston, he will pick up and make the move to his new city. Although Sullinger was not a member of the 2011-12 squad that lost to the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, he is bringing a sense of determination to help the Celtics make it even further this season.
We just want to win, he said. Our main goal is winning. Losing to the Miami Heat kind of put a damper on Boston. Like I always say, coming in second in that city is basically coming in last. They dont tolerate losing, so hopefully well win something.
High on Sullingers must-see list once he arrives in Boston is the TD Garden. He doesnt want to check out the parquet or scope out the locker room. Sullinger wants to get a glimpse of the banners.
Last season the Buckeyes played at the TD Garden for the NCAA Tournament, but the banners were removed from the rafters during the college games. Sullinger is hungry to see the symbols of victory in person.
Im really looking forward to seeing the colorful green and white banners and all the retired jerseys, he said. Every home game that we play, I can always look up there and know that every last person that won a championship here, every last person that got their number retired here gave it their all, and its the best franchise in the history of franchises. Its kind of like a reminder of banner 18 needs to come soon.
Sullinger is willing to accept whatever role he is given on his new team to help make that happen.

Chris Mannix: 'Great chance' Celtics capture No. 1 seed


Chris Mannix: 'Great chance' Celtics capture No. 1 seed

Chris Mannix discusses the Boston Celtics chances of sealing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and which low-seed team will give them the most problems in the playoffs.

Kelly Olynyk's 3-point game is helping him produce all over floor

Kelly Olynyk's 3-point game is helping him produce all over floor

Waltham, mass. – Kelly Olynyk is in a good place right now. 

He’s playing a key role on one of the top teams in the NBA, doing more than just stretch the floor with long-range jumpers and 3-pointers. He has been a solid positional defender most of his time in the NBA, but lately he has become one of the team’s best rebounders … really!

But more than anything, Olynyk is in the best shape of his career both mentally and physically, delivering strong play in several categories.

“When he plays aggressive and with confidence, that’s when he’s at his best,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. 

And lately, the best of Olynyk has been in steady rotation for the Celtics who will host the Phoenix Suns tonight. 

Olynyk attributes his recent strong play to seizing his opportunity to help the Celtics in what has been a season-long area of weakness. The fourth-year big man is a threat to score from 3-point range whenever he’s on the floor. Because of that, teams are overly concerned about his long-range shooting which has allowed him to be an effective driver into the paint and finisher around the rim. 

He has also benefited by being healthy, something he could not say was the case on the eve of the Celtics’ postseason run last season which ended in the second round to the Atlanta Hawks. Olynyk was hampered by a sore right shoulder injury that limited him in the playoffs against Atlanta, and later required surgery which sidelined him for the start of this season. 

But those pain-filled days where he gave more thought to his shoulder rather than shouldering a greater load for the Celtics, are behind him now. 

“It’s something that I had to deal with and I had to get surgery,” Olynyk said. “Now it feels better than it has. I feel strong, confident, ready to roll.”

Boston has won five of its last six games, and the play of Olynyk off the bench has been among the reasons for the team’s latest run of success. In those six games, Olynyk has averaged 10.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting a team-high 64.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from 3-point range in 20.5 minutes per game – all better than his season average in those respective categories. 

And among Celtics players who have averaged double-digit minutes in that span, Olynyk has a team-best rebounding percentage of .170 in addition to an effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) of .689 which is also tops among Boston players during their last six games.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens isn’t surprised to see Olynyk playing as well as he has now that he’s injury-free.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important than playing with clear minds and fresh legs,” Stevens said. “I just think that, and not being injured is a big part of that.”

For Olynyk, part of the challenge he has had since coming to the NBA was finding that balance between being aggressive and assertive, while making sure he got teammates involved when the opportunity presents itself.

“There’s definitely a fine line between being aggressive, forcing things, over-aggressive and create and open things up for others,” Olynyk said. “It’s kind of a balance, kind of like a yin and yang; just go out and play basketball the way you know how to play it. That’s what’s going to make you the best version of yourself and your team the best version they can be.”

Olynyk’s teammates encourage him often (Avery Bradley and Thomas are probably the two most consistent in his ear) to be more assertive, but they recognize he tends to be hesitant far too often for a player with his skillset.

“When he’s second-guessing and … shot-faking when he should have shot, just not being the aggressive player that we need him to be … we don’t need him to be like that,” said Thomas. “We believe in him. He just has to remain confident at all times. When he’s confident and aggressive, he’s a hell of a player.”