With Olynyk and Sullinger out, Brad Stevens shortens big man rotation

After the All-Star break and the excitement of the trade deadline, the Celtics got some bad news when they learned that Jared Sullinger would miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his foot. Sullinger, Boston's leading scorer and rebounder with 14.4 points and 8.1 boards, joined Kelly Olynyk on the injury report. Olynyk hasn't played since he sprained his ankle in Portland on January 22, and he's questionable to return this week.

On the three-game road trip that followed the break, head coach Brad Stevens relied heavily on starters Brandon Bass and Tyler Zeller to man the frontcourt, with both playing at least 30 minutes in each of those games. In fact, in Monday's win at Phoenix, no other big man played at all. They performed well, with Bass averaging 15.3 points and 7 rebounds and Zeller 14 and 7, but there's no guarantee that they'll be able to keep carrying such a heavy load, and an injury to either of them would force Stevens to rethink his rotation.

Olynyk's return will be a welcome relief, as the Celtics will once again be able to alternate between their two seven-footers at the center position. At power forward, Stevens has already used a number of combinations with Sullinger out. Shavlik Randolph played for the first time in Friday's loss at Sacramento, and Jonas Jerebko made his debut against the Lakers, but neither came off the bench in Phoenix.

Gerald Wallace's playing time has increased, and he was on the floor for 15 minutes against the Suns. Both he and Jae Crowder could get significant time at the four going forward. With the addition of Isaiah Thomas and the emergence of James Young, the Celtics have five good guards who will allow Stevens to roll out small lineups for extended stretches.

Still, the coach will have to find an alternative for when Boston faces teams that rely on their big men, or when Olynyk runs into foul trouble, as he often does. Of the players currently on the roster Jerebko, who gave the Pistons a serviceable 15.3 minutes off the bench this season, seems like the most likely choice to enter the frontcourt rotation once he gets acclimated to the Celtics' system.

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Photo credit: Jessica Hill/AP