The return of Avery Bradley has generated the most buzz and has received the most credit when it comes to the revival underway in Boston, but there is another, equally compelling argument that could made for Jared Sullinger’s impact on Team Green. And I, for one, feel that Sullinger’s play over these last five games has been more important that what Bradley has brought to the table.
Sullinger is averaging 10.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game over the last five games. He pulled down a game-high 16 boards against the Phoenix Suns on January 9th, with five of those coming on the offensive glass. On Friday night, Sullinger grabbed 11 boards against the Houston Rockets, with another five coming on the offensive end.
Clearly, Sullinger has been active underneath the basket, and the energy that he brings cannot be underestimated – not on a team with limited size, which is the case with the Celtics. The fact that he’s done this while averaging 26.8 minutes-per-game is outstanding. Sullinger has become the glue guy for a bench that is suddenly starting to find itself.
Which brings us back to Bradley. AB’s return has brought defensive intensity to the perimeter, but it has also allowed Courtney Lee and Jason Terry to fall back into their original roles coming off the bench. The quartet that is Sullinger, Lee, Terry and Jeff Green is starting to click, and Bradley’s return to the starting lineup has made this all possible. So, big props to Bradley for spawning this four-headed monster.
But when it comes to sheer impact, Sullinger stands head and shoulder above his bench-mates. Terry has yet to live up to his promise, and while Lee and Green have improved of late Sullinger is still the player turning heads. And when comparing Sullinger’s impact to Bradley’s, I have to give the nod to what Sullinger is doing down low. Sullinger is stepping up, providing the energy and intelligence needed on a team that is still deficient on the glass.
Who knows where we’d be without Sullinger. Our Celtics out-rebounded the Rockets 43-38, but that is the exception and not the rule. The Suns won the rebounding battle on January 9th, and the Knicks grabbed more boards than our C’s on January 7th. Barring a trade, it’s a pattern that won’t subside anytime soon, so count your lucky stars that we have Sullinger’s energy coming off the bench.