Reserves Show Off Firepower in Istanbul

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Jared Sullinger couldn’t coin a nickname for Boston’s three-headed monster of reserves of himself, Jason Terry and Jeff Green following Friday night’s exhibition game against Fenerbahce Ulker. We’ll help him out. Let’s call them Triple J.

This trio of players whose names all begin with J’s encompasses every stage of an NBA career. They’re different in so many ways, but so similar at the same time.

Terry, the seasoned vet, Green, the potential star, and Sullinger, the promising rookie, all have one common goal this season. They want to provide a powerful punch off of Boston’s bench.

“Honestly we take pride in that,” Sullinger said of making a difference off the bench. “Me, Jeff and JET (Terry), we pretty much know that we’ve got to bring energy and the intensity can’t drop. If the intensity drops, we’re going to be in trouble.”

This group created anything but trouble Friday night. Instead, they created promise. This was only Boston’s first preseason game of the season but it provided a substantial glimpse into what may be sitting on the team’s list of reserves. That glimpse was full of energy, scoring and rebounding.

Green, Sullinger and Terry all capitalized on their first opportunity to impact a game as a reserve by not only maintaining a high level of intensity when they checked in, but actually causing it to spike.

Green checked into the game with 6:24 left on the clock in the first period. Within a couple of minutes, the athletic swingman had already put home an and-one in the paint, grabbed a rebound and slammed home a put-back dunk. He scored five points without missing a shot and grabbed a rebound in his first few minutes of game action in about a year and a half.

Sullinger wouldn’t let Green outshine him. The big man out of Ohio State checked into the game with 1:40 remaining in the first quarter and it took him only 36 seconds to score his first basket. He also grabbed a rebound before the quarter was over. By halftime, Sullinger had accumulated six points and three boards off the bench.

And then there is the ever-reliable Terry, who came to the Celtics to be their game-changer off of the bench. He only scored three points in his first minutes of action with Boston, but he’d heat up by the end of the night. He finished the game shooting 4-of-7 from the field and drilled all three of his 3-point attempts to finish with 12 points.

When all was said and done, Green and Sullinger had tied for the team-high in scoring with 16 points apiece and Terry chipped in his 12.

Can you remember a game last season in which Boston’s bench accumulated 48 points, let alone only three players from that bench? We can’t. And that’s why this could be such a great teaser for what may be sitting in warm-ups when the ball is tossed up for Boston’s 82 games this season.

“We’re going to help our starters out,” Green said after the 97-91 loss to Fenerbahce. “We’re going to be there to back them up when they’re not having the best start, and they’re going to do the same for us when they start with a good start, and we’re just going to take over. That’s our job.”

Green certainly recognized his job tonight. He scored 11 consecutive points during the final stages of the fourth quarter, helping to lead the Celtics back from a double-digit deficit and make it a one-possession game. Celtics fans may not remember that type of aggressiveness from Green when he was with the team in 2011, but that may become a regularity if Rivers continues to call his name.

“I had to be aggressive, be the leader of the squad that was on the floor,” Green said of his hot fourth-quarter stretch. “I was out there with four rookies at the time, and I just needed to lead by example. Doc put me in a great position to get the ball and be aggressive and make plays, and I did a pretty good job of that.”

Let’s not allow No. 8 to sell himself short. Green did a great job of that. Sullinger and Terry did, too. The firepower of this trio of J’s will undoubtedly change the landscape of Boston’s bench compared to seasons past.