Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger reaggravated a left hand injury Sunday he said he has been nursing for more than a month.
It forced him out twice in the first half of the Celtics’ 92-91 loss to Atlanta, before coach Brad Stevens chose to go with his more effective reserve unit in the second half. But Sullinger has no intention of missing time, starting Thursday night in Chicago.
“I don’t know. I could care less,” Sullinger said of how the injury might have limited him yesterday. “I just hurt it when I fell on the floor.”
Point of contention
Stevens acknowledged hearing a brief argument between Brandon Bass and Jeff Green while both were benched in the third quarter. The coach is waiting to see how both respond.
“Disagreements are part of the game — how you move on from them says a lot,” Stevens said.
Sullinger certainly understood the coach’s decision to bench his starting frontcourt.
“Kelly (Olynyk) and (Kris Humphries) were playing well, so I don’t even know why I would come back in,” he said. “They played really well. It doesn’t bother me at all. Why even come in and mess up the groove? I thought they carried us down the stretch. Everybody has been in a game like that, where someone has it going. That’s just life, that’s basketball.”
Stevens admitted he was tempted to send Green back into the game in the last three minutes, but decided against the move based on Green being cold.
Olynyk finished the game with career highs in points (21), 3-pointers (three) and blocks (two). He also tied a career high with five assists. His parents, Arlene and Ken, on a holiday visit from Vancouver, were in the stands.
The plan to start Rajon Rondo’s return by sending the point guard to the Maine Red Claws in Portland is still more theory than reality, according to Stevens.
“Very much a talking point more than a certainty,” he said. “Not really a rehab assignment as much as to get your wind. It’s going to be his call on those things. We talked with him about it. I think he will end up doing that at some point, from a conditioning standpoint and a game-simulation standpoint, both in practice and maybe a game situation. They have a few more days in between games to practice. That would be good for people. I have no idea if he plays in a game or not, but that’s all to be determined.”
Mack makes it happen
By his own estimation, Shelvin Mack talks to Stevens once a week.
The former Butler point guard, now an Atlanta backup, is a great example of what a dues-paying path through the NBADL can do for a hard-working player.
Stevens had a hand in that development, but Mack never suspected that his former college coach would ever leave Indianapolis.
“I was very surprised,” Mack said before yesterday’s game. “That same week he called me about a kid in Kentucky (Lexington) he was recruiting. He was asking about that guy. He recruits in that area.”
That’s where Mack’s surprise ended, though. Stevens’ early work with the Celtics has been successful, and Mack understands why.
“He’s a player’s coach,” he said. “He listens to the players. Some stuff might be harder to do in the game, and he understands that. He understands those situations. He helped me as a player and an individual. It’s a daily process that takes every day to reach a goal. That’s helped me in my NBA career, and life in general.”
Mack’s development has been something to behold, considering Stevens’ initial impression of the guard. Though Stevens famously predicted that former Butler star Gordon Hayward would reach the NBA, he didn’t have the same thought about Mack.
“When we first got him, no. I didn’t think he was a point at that time,” said Stevens. “I thought he was a strong 2/3 who would be a good college player. The thing Shelvin has going for him is when you talk to his teachers, his principals, whoever you talk to, they glowed about him. He’s a good person, and an ultimate gym rat and worker.
“That’s what brought him here. He spent a lot of late nights in Hinkle Fieldhouse. . . . The way he’s playing right now, I’m so thrilled for him. I don’t like playing against him, ever.”