Practice: Sullinger (back) sits out
January, 31, 2013
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger did not participate in Thursday's practice session due to back spasms that forced him out of Wednesday's game against the Sacramento Kings, and coach Doc Rivers deemed the rookie questionable for Friday's visit from the Orlando Magic.
"It's just what it is -- spasms and day-to-day," said Rivers. "I don’t think it's anything bad. Just spasms, which are bad."
Rivers pegged Sullinger as 50/50 to play against Orlando, but said it's hard to judge how a back will respond. Rivers admitted the spasms are likely related to the red flags that caused Sullinger to slip to Boston at No. 21 in June's draft, but downplayed his concern level.
"No, I’m not that concerned," said Rivers. "Could he miss games? Like I said yesterday, here and there he may. But it’s not anything career-threatening or anything like that."
Later Rivers, who talked about battling his own back issues in the NBA after tweaking it in college, added: "I don’t think about it much. Again, probably because I lived it. You never know when [the back will act up]. I think the other day, [Sullinger] told [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] it felt better. It’s just backs are temperamental, they do what they want."
Brandon Bass, who has started 33 of 45 games this season, was on the floor early getting extra reps under the tutelage of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. Bass seems to be the obvious choice to shuffle back into the starting role should Sullinger be unable to go on Friday.
A handful of other notes from Thursday's pre-practice access at the team's training center:
* C'S LOW ON PRACTICE BODIES: With Rajon Rondo (ACL) and Sullinger on the shelf and two open roster spots, the Celtics only had 11 available players for practice on Thursday. That included rookie center Fab Melo, recently recalled from the D-League, who is battling a quadriceps injury of his own. Short on numbers, assistant coach Ty Lue was dressed in a reserve-unit jersey before Thursday's session. It has not been unusual for Rivers to utilize Lue as an extra body at times in past seasons.
* WILCOX'S MINUTES RISE: After missing 19 games due to a thumb injury, Celtics forward/center Chris Wilcox returned for a brief cameo (156 seconds of floor time) in Sunday's win over the Miami Heat, but got his first extended action in Wednesday's triumph over the Kings. Wilcox scored six points on 3-of-4 shooting with five rebounds over 17 minutes. "It felt good out there," said Wilcox. "First real game getting some minutes, so to me it felt good. I felt like I was in pretty decent shape for this being my first time back out there in a while. Just take what it gives me, just go out there and play hard." Wilcox is wearing a brace, but said his thumb feels fine. While he noted his role really doesn't change without Rondo, he admitted he has to find a new setup man for his alley-oops. "No, [no new alley-oop feeder] yet. We'll see, though. It'll come," said Wilcox.
* HAPPY BASS GETTING MORE TOUCHES: While stressing that little has changed about Boston's offense other than a heightened emphasis on ball movement since Rondo was lost for the season, Brandon Bass admitted that getting more opportunities with the ball in his hands could help him get out of his season-long shooting funk. Bass scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting with four rebounds, three steals, and two assists in Wednesday's win over Sacramento. When a reporter asked if these were happier times for Bass, he noted, "I mean, of course you feel better with the ball touching your hands, going through your hands or whatever. Yeah, it feels good. But at the same time, we still miss Rondo."
* CAPTAIN ON THE GLASS: Rivers said rebound totals have always been a solid indicator of how well Paul Pierce is playing. Coming off another double-digit rebounding effort on Wednesday, Rivers noted, "When he rebounds, we’re better -- there’s no doubt. I’ve always looked at his numbers, that’s a big number for me, to see if Paul is playing well, if he’s rebounding or not. I’ve said it since I’ve been here, he’s one of the better rebounders in the league at his position, and when he does it, it’s big for us. Especially now, because we don’t have Rondo." Later Rivers added, "I don’t care about the assists honestly; if he gets them, I’m real happy with it. Rebounding and scoring is what I want. We need Paul's scoring, and being the scorer he can be every night."