Pregame: C's go small sans Sullinger

February, 1, 2013

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers got word early this morning that rookie Jared Sullinger might need surgery on his bothersome back. By the time confirmation arrived before the team's morning shootaround, doctors were practically wheeling Sullinger in to go under the knife.

Sullinger underwent lumbar disc surgery Friday and will miss the remainder of the 2012-13 season. He is expected to be back in time for the team's 2013-14 training camp later this year.

Coming on the heels of the Celtics' loss of point guard Rajon Rondo for the year with an ACL tear, Rivers said his team's goals remain unchanged at the moment.

"My emotions are to the team, I have to give them that," said Rivers. "I told them after shootaround ... our goals haven’t changed, nothing’s changed. We will have to play differently, again."

The Celtics will move forward Brandon Bass back into the starting lineup, but Rivers suggested the team will go small more often, leaning on the depth at shooting guard and utilizing Jeff Green more at the power forward spot.

"I think we’re still working on what we may have to do. But I think we definitely have to be a small-ball team," said Rivers. "We’ll start big, as usual with Brandon and Kevin [Garnett] -- I don’t know if that’s big, but that’s how we’ll start. After that we just have to put our five best players on the floor, so we’re going to have to be creative."

Rivers said he might even lean on rookie center Fab Melo, but said it would be small doses while they figure out where he's at with his development.

"I know how people here love the young guys -- love to see the young guys," quipped Rivers. "I’m sure at some point, Fab will find his way on the floor. ... Obviously, I think you try to give him as much as he can handle. You do try to put him in situations like when he’s on the floor, Kevin’s on the floor with him to help him."

Rivers stressed that the team knew the risk with Sullinger and expected surgery to occur at some point down the road. They were simply hoping his balky back might not require a fix until the offseason.

"We knew this could happen. We knew it a month before the draft that this could happen and at some point it probably would happen," said Rivers. "We were hoping it would be a summer thing, rather than the middle of the season, but it happened now. He was playing great and the good news is we know he can play. We know he’ll be a very good player and, in the long run, this will make him healthier."

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter,



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?


Greg Cosell, NFL

NFL Films' Greg Cosell covers the Cowboys' defense, Rob Gronkowski's impact, Darrelle Revis' performance last season, the Giants' talent level and the outlook for the Cardinals.

Baseball Tonight

Buster Olney and Keith Law talk about the Tigers' acquisition of Joakim Soria and whether it's wise to trade within the division. Plus, Matt Gelb on the Phillies' plans.

Baseball Tonight

Buster Olney talks to Marc Topkin about the Rays' plans with David Price. Plus, Jayson Stark on Price and the rest of the trade market as the trading deadline looms over MLB.

Tom Brady, Patriots

Patriots QB Tom Brady talks about donating to The V Foundation for Cancer Research and more.

Joe Buck, MLB

FOX's Joe Buck discusses his memories of Derek Jeter, Jeter's final season, the rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox and the rosters for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.

Brian Windhorst, NBA

ESPN NBA Insider Brian Windhorst weighs in on the Heat's reaction to LeBron James' departure, James' mindset regarding free agency, whether the Cavaliers should pursue Kevin Love and more.


Jeff Green
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9