The cult of Jared Sullinger is growing fast in Boston.
The rookie power forward out of Ohio State slipped down the draft board because of injury reports and because he’s not as athletic, he doesn’t play above the rim like some of the guys taken in front of him. But he can play — he’s crafty and scores in the paint. The Celtics players and fans like what they see.
But he’s a rookie and Brandon Bass is a quality NBA veteran. And signs point to coach Doc Rivers leaning veteran when he has to pick an opening night starter against the Miami Heat, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.
Rivers has said his starting lineup will likely fluctuate depending on the foe and the type of player opponents choose to start….
As good as Sullinger has been in the preseason, seeing him matched up with LeBron James to start his NBA career might be classified as cruel and unusual punishment. In addition, Bass did arguably as good a job as any of his Boston teammates in defending James during their matchup in the Eastern Conference finals last season.
Bass is experienced, he can handle the big stage — and opening night on national television playing a Heat team raising a banner is a big stage. While Sullinger has looked good in the preseason and earned the love of his teammates, he hasn’t yet played an NBA game. His reaction to the moment remains an unknown.
As Blakely notes — Rivers knows he can trust Bass. He’s starting to trust Sullinger, but it’s not the same. Not yet.
Opening night may well go to Bass as the starter. Now, opening night of the playoffs six months from now could be a different story entirely.
Jim Boylen is making friends within the Bulls.
Outside the organization? Not so much.
Boylen and Doc Rivers got ejected for yelling at each other during the Clippers’ win over Chicago on Friday. Rivers blamed Boylen for instigating.
Then, Boylen called timeout with the Bulls up 14 and 40 seconds left against the Suns last night. Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov appeared to take exception.
The Suns intentionally fouled, stopping Chicago from running its after-timeout play. As the game ended, Boylen gave the customary wave to the opposing coach – and was clearly rebuffed.
Kellan Olson of 98.7 Arizona Sports:
Was Boylen trying to rub in the victory? He pulled his starters during the timeout, giving him plausible deniability. It’d also be reasonable to use the timeout as a teaching opportunity for running an after-timeout play.
But the Suns don’t have to like being used for practice. They’re in the midst of a trying season, especially Kokoskov. His bitterness is understandable.
I don’t think either coach was wrong here. Both were doing what was best for their teams. The Bulls should get experience running situational plays. The Suns should find motivation to no longer get treated like a pushover.
Boylen strayed further from the accepted norms, but I rarely support unwritten rules. If the Suns didn’t like it, they should have done something about it – which they did by fouling to stop Chicago’s play. It was petty, but it was well within their rights. Just like the Bulls were calling timeout.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the NBA’s most popular players. They led the league in All-Star fan voting the last two years. Antetokounmpo is favored to win MVP this season, and LeBron is generally recognized as the best player in the world.
So, tonight’s Lakers-Bucks game is losing a lot of luster.
This is what happens when you get a game-winner blocked by Mario Hezonja. You must take a seat for at least one game.
The Lakers are apparently going through with a plan to rest LeBron James in one game of back-to-backs. This isn’t that. The Lakers were off yesterday then have tomorrow and Thursday off.
LeBron missed 18 games earlier this season with a groin injury. That’s the type of injury he could play through – while at risk of aggravating it. Maybe he came back before fully recovered in order to make a playoff push.
LeBron’s activated playoff mode went nowhere. The Lakers are almost certain to miss the postseason. At this point, it makes sense to be cautious with the 34-year-old LeBron.
The Bucks should also be cautious with their superstar – but for the opposite reason. Milwaukee is 2.5 games up on everyone else in the league.
Antetokounmpo injured his ankle against the 76ers on Sunday. He stayed in that game, scoring 52 points in a loss. Hopefully, this is minor. The Bucks also play the Cavaliers tomorrow, so maybe Antetokounmpo will play the other half of the back-to-back.
J.R. Smith got suspended for throwing soup – chicken tortilla, to be precise – at Cavaliers assistant coach Damon Jones last season. Smith’s anger reportedly stemmed from him not sharing Jones’ joking mood that day.
Now, Jones – whom Cleveland fired with Tyronn Lue earlier this season – is revealing his side of the story.
Jalen & Jacoby:
It was the bowl plus the soup.
It was the first bowl out of the pot, so it was hot as hell. Yes, it was hot, very hot.
It went everywhere.
I was standing up, and it hit me in the shoulder, arm, everywhere. It hit the wall. I mean, it was a mess.
We didn’t talk to each other for probably three months, not one word. And then, I remember it was a night after a back-to-back. We was in Philadelphia, and we had a conversation and said, “You know what? Brothers have quarrels. I’m sorry. I apologize. Let’s move on.”
Kudos to David Jacoby for asking the important questions. This interview revealed a lot – the soup temperature, where it went and whether the bowl got tossed. Unfortunately, Jones dodged Jacoby’s question about whether Smith threw overhand or underhand. Relatedly, we don’t know the distance of the throw. There’s still a lot to uncover.
Additional context: That game in Philadelphia was just over a month after the soup throw. So, the rift didn’t last quite as along as Jones described. It might have felt like three months, though. Even one month is a long time to ignore someone you see every day.
At least the Cavs had experience with a player not talking to anyone.
Anthony Davis is a superstar with an expanding all-around game. Jrue Holiday plays like a star.
But Davis is getting only limited minutes, and Holiday is injured.
So, that leave a huge production void on the Pelicans.
Elfrid Payton has been filling it.
Payton’s 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in a win over the Mavericks last night gave him five straight triple-doubles. That streak puts him in elite company.
This is a nice accomplishment by Payton. Obviously, he’s not nearly as good as Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. This is a statistical oddity. But Payton is still playing well enough to get included with only Hall of Famers and a future Hall of Fame. That counts for something.
Payton has a solid all-around game that lends itself to getting triple-doubles. He’s active on the glass for a point guard. He’s comfortable running an offense and handling the ball enough to get so many assists.
But he’s an inefficient scorer who doesn’t space the floor enough. His defense is disappointing. There are reasons New Orleans was 0-4 during the first four games of his streak and got outscored by 12, 27, 13 and 7 with him on the court during those games.
Take this streak for what it is – a very cool feat, but not something that elevates Payton into a higher class of players.