Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Rebounding is instinct, according to Jared Sullinger.
That must be true, because Brad Stevens has been watching the Celtics forward’s instinct at work for a long time.
“I remember the first time I saw him play and it was in a high school open gym,” said Stevens, who was a Butler assistant coach at the time. “I called Thad (head coach Matta) on the way home and said I can’t believe how much this kid can do. Not just rebounding, but shooting, passing. He’s just a very instinctive player. He understands the game. It comes very easy to him. We’ve been better with Sully on the floor. The numbers bear that out in the first three exhibition games. Hopefully, that continues.”
Considering many of the other numbers from the Celtics that have stained the box score over the three exhibition games leading into last night’s rematch with the Knicks in Verizon Wireless Arena, it’s impossible not to notice Sullinger’s progress.
He’s the Celtics’ leading scorer (12.8 ppg) and rebounder (6.5 rpg).
He was slightly more subdued last night with 12 points and five rebounds during the team’s first win of the preseason under Stevens, beating the Knicks, 111-81. But for those wondering about the best Celtic during the four games of this preseason, it is quite possibly the same guy who said he wasn’t “close” on the first day of training camp.
Boston Herald – Sullinger rebounds on pure instinct
After the first four games of the preseason, all of which have come within the last six days, it’s fairly evident that Boston’s ‘best’ player overall thus far has been Jared Sullinger. Considering the offseason he had, that’s a pretty remarkable feat. Following back surgery, Sullinger wasn’t able to do much for a long time, essentially all the way up to training camp. He’s admittedly out of shape, yet he’s been very effective for the C’s thus far. He had to deal with (and is still dealing with) his boneheaded domestic incident on top of that which adds in the mental and emotional detriments to his already physical ones. Yet, with all of that he’s played amazingly well.
Look, we all knew he could play and many C’s fans fell in love with him as soon as the summer league in 2012 (much like how rookie Kelly Olynyk has done this season). But if you add in all of those factors it’s incredible that he’s been their best player. And that speaks volumes about the team in general. This is not to trash everyone else as a team with so many new parts, including an entirely new coaching staff, should struggle when they’re simply trying to learn each other. But it’s encouraging to see Sully bounce back so well especially being out of shape.
There will be plenty of growing pains, speed bumps and some brutal play, and that can simply come from guys not even knowing plays:
“We have to all get on the same page and learn how to move the ball and learn the plays,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “A lot of guys were forgetting the plays.”
In that same story above from CSNNE, Bradley reiterates that guys need to learn the plays. I had to read it a few times since it’s not often you actually see players admit something like this. In that same piece, it’s not often you’ll see players say what Gerald Wallace said about playing veteran teams:
“Teams like New York and Miami and guys like that who been together for a while, who’ve had guys play together for a while, they’re going to embarrass us every night and I’m not trying to get embarrassed,” Wallace said. “We have to figure out how we can do this as a team, bring everybody together, be on the same page and start building something.”
Oof, that’s rough to take as a C’s fan but neither he nor AB are lying. There’s no sugar coating it, this season will be a difficult ones for fans to digest, but like I said in last Sunday’s dump, for the hardcore hoops/C’s fans, in a way, there is a lot of fun in learning along the way with this team. We’ll figure out who can carve out their space on this team, who gets developed into a primary role and who doesn’t. There will be bits and pieces of the growing pains we’ll all remember and look back on once they’re on top again and be able to say “yeah, I watched all of this grow into a contender.” It will just make it that much sweeter in the long run.
ESPN Boston: Notebook: Sullinger’s game taking shape
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Maturing Crawford carving out role | Boston Herald – Notebook: C’s win with nobody looking |Full Court Pressey (Sunday Notes) | Boston Globe – Celtics have first preseason win | Next stop for Warriors is the most difficult (Sunday Notes) | CSNNE – Celtics crush depleted Knicks, 111-81 | Celtics search for offensive balance | Bogans out a couple of weeks with sprained thumb | Guards get in same groove for the Celtics | Bass stepping into new leadership role