In Saturday's dramatic 117-116 OT victory in Toronto, Jared Sullinger grabbed seven rebounds in 12 minutes, but went scoreless on three field goal attempts. Meanwhile, Jonas Jerebko (two points) logged just nine minutes of action, his lowest total since February 23. The night before, Jerebko scored 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting in 21 minutes.
Boston went 14-10 in the 24 games that Sullinger missed. Is there a chance working him back in now could throw off the chemistry the Celtics built in that time? Mass Live's Jay King writes:
In his absence, the team was a couple of ticks better defensively, with a formula that has resulted in staying competitive almost every night. The second unit has thrived with shooting big men to spread the court for Isaiah Thomas. Though Sullinger sometimes goes on hot streaks, he's not a good outside shooter -- opponents can and do sag off him routinely. The more pressing concern might be at the other end of the court, where his lack of conditioning and athleticism too often gets exposed.
But if and when Sullinger regains his timing, whose minutes should he take? Jonas Jerbebo has provided an energetic charge, and Kelly Olynyk might fit better with the free-flowing, screen-switching bench. Is Sullinger better off taking some of Brandon Bass or Tyler Zeller's minutes with the starters? Would that hurt the defense? Is Sullinger in good enough basketball shape to make a difference? Where does he fit? After such a long layoff, does he fit?
To his credit, Sullinger appears fully aware of the situation at hand. Via Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston, Sullinger said:
Like I told Brad [Stevens] in the meeting the day before the Bucks game, I'm not looking to come back like I was before All-Star break where I was scoring the basketball and being a go-to player. I just take a lesser role to help the team win, because this team has it rolling.
You have to think Stevens is fully capable of integrating Sullinger back into the lineup in the manner that is most useful for the ball club. The trouble is, Stevens doesn't really have any time to experiment. The C's have just five games remaining, all of which are crucial to Boston's playoff chances.
On Wednesday the Celtics visit the Pistons, marking Jerebko's (and Luigi Datome's) first trip back to Detroit since being traded to Boston. Players tend to excel in those situations--it'll be very interesting to see if Stevens continues to extend Sully's minutes at the expense of Jerebko's.
Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan Mark Van Deusen 4/07/2015 02:44:00 PM Tweet Edit