Sullinger Vies To Help C's on Glass in Debut
WALTHAM, Mass. – There was only one member of the Boston Celtics who wasn’t in Toronto for the season opener. That player's name is Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger served his one-game, team-mandated suspension Wednesday night and is scheduled to make his season debut Friday night at TD Garden. The second-year forward, who hasn’t played since January 30, is excited for his debut but also admits that he’s a bit anxious about his return to the lineup.
“Definitely have a little bit of nerves heading into this game, especially coming off of back surgery,” Sullinger said following Thursday’s practice. “Now it’s the real deal. Everybody’s full squad is going head to head, so a little nervous, but I think I’ll conquer it.”
The Celtics hope that Sullinger’s presence will help them conquer the rebounding deficiencies they experienced on Opening Night. Boston was outrebounded by Toronto 48-33 overall while giving up 19 offensive rebounds.
Sullinger watched every one of those rebounds while he sat next to Danny Ainge in the GM's office. He didn’t enjoy what he was viewing from nearly 600 miles away.
“I was definitely cringing when I realized we weren’t getting a lot of rebounds we were supposed to get,” he said. “A lot of them were loose balls, honestly, and all those tip-backs by Valanciunas.”
He’s confident that he’ll be able to help the Celtics improve in that department tomorrow night against Milwaukee.
Said Sullinger, “Rebounding is my forte and that’s what I pride myself on.”
The power forward averaged 5.9 rebounds per game as a rookie and hopes to increase that number this season. Rebounding, however, isn’t the only thing he brings to the table.
Boston will also see a boost in several other categories when Sullinger returns to the court. Brad Stevens touched on some of the other skills Sullinger brings to the table when he spoke to the media on Thursday.
“I just think he’s a good player,” Stevens said. “The more good players you have, the better.
“He can rebound, he can shoot, he can pass, he can play, he’s got a nice IQ to him. Obviously, he can get guys off the glass. That would have helped last night.”
Come Friday night, the Celtics won’t need to worry about what Sullinger could have given to the team. They’ll be able to watch the big man’s impact first-hand.
There’s no doubt that Sullinger will make a positive impact on Boston’s rebounding numbers. As he said, crashing the glass is his forte, and the C’s are excited to have that skill back in the lineup.
As Jeff Green said in seven short words, “It’s good to have him back now.”