Sully Hurts Knee, Wallace Embraces Role
WALTHAM, Mass. – The Boston Celtics returned to the practice court today for their first session since Thursday afternoon. With a four-game winning streak intact, there were many topics to cover.
The story after Monday’s game was the duo of Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley excelling in the backcourt. Today, a few other stories broke that are worthy of mentioning.
Sullinger's Hurt Knee
The key word here is ‘hurt.’ Not injured. It sounds as if Jared Sullinger will be fine after undergoing precautionary tests on his right knee.
“Jared got hit on that collision under the basket,” Brad Stevens explained. “He’s got a sore knee and they’re doing an MRI just to check out and see what’s wrong.”
Stevens said that results have not come back and that Sullinger’s status is currently unknown.
“We have nothing conclusive and certainly day-to-day sounds like what they’re looking at,” he said, “but we just don’t know yet, so we want to make sure.”
Wallace is Embracing Reserve Role
It’s no secret that Gerald Wallace prefers to be a starter. So does everyone else in the NBA. But Wallace, who has been relegated to the bench over the past four games, explained on Tuesday that he’s beginning to embrace his new role as a reserve.
“I’m having fun with it. It’s a new point of my career,” Wallace said. “I’m kind of enjoying it, being able to give my most in a quick five-, six-minute spurt and then turn it back over to the younger guys and let them play.”
Wallace also went on to say that his contributions don’t end when he heads back to the bench. In fact, that may be when he makes the greatest impact on his teammates.
“I think I’m helping more from the sidelines,” said Wallace, “because you actually can see the game more and I’m able to talk to them, especially Jeff (Green) and Sully (Jared Sullinger) and Kelly (Olynyk) and let those guys understand what they’re doing out there on the court.”
Not everyone expected it, but Wallace is turning into one of Boston’s top assets off of the bench.
C’s Continue Learning How To Win
Every NBA team is unique. Some need to lean on their best player to lead them to victories, while others need to rely on team basketball in order to come out on top. This is the time of the year when teams are identifying what they need to do to win games.
“The first month is usually the warm-up period,” said Wallace. “So teams are still trying to figure out their identity and figure out what they want to do as a team and what their expectations are.”
The Celtics seem to be figuring out their identity, and quickly. They’re riding a four-game winning streak as they display a high level of unselfishness at both ends of the court.
“I just think that everybody is out there playing to their strengths,” said Brandon Bass. “We’re moving the ball, sharing the ball with each other and the results have been great for us.”
The man watching this happen from the sideline, Brad Stevens, knows a lot about unselfish basketball. It was one of the staples of his Butler teams that went to back-to-back national championship games. Celtics.com asked him about the process of each individual team learning what it needs to do to win.
“I think it’s getting to know each other,” he answered. “I think it’s getting some belief built up. There’s some, even with guys that have been there before on teams where they may not have been the central figure at the end of games, finding their spots and finding their niche and finding where they best can be successful.”
Stevens continued as he went into more depth about how his players are adjusting to new roles and situations.
“I think one of the interesting things is when you have a change in how much you’re expected to do or how much we need you to do,” Stevens said. “Sometimes guys can change their roles from the past where they can become even more of a scorer or more of a go-to guy, and some guys just can’t and they just need to do their job as well as they can and be better in their role. I think those are some things you learn as you move on.”
Stevens acknowledged that the Celtics still have a way to go in that area but are showing encouraging signs of progression.
“I still think we’re learning a lot about our team in that regard,” he said, “but the bottom line is everybody’s playing better within themselves in the last couple of games.”
In other words, this group of Celtics is learning how to win as a team.