BOSTON - The Boston Celtics' preseason comes to an end Wednesday evening, but don't tell Jared Sullinger. The slimmed-down big man has been doing his best Steve Novak impression in October. Despite shooting a solid 50-percent from the field, he is actually shooting 3.8-percent better from downtown.
Is it a healthy hand? Is it an improved shot? Of course not. It's his wonderful teammates.
"The way we move the ball. The way we play together. I'm getting wide open shots out there. So I got time to catch it, spin it, take two steps if I want to and shoot the ball; the way we move the ball so well."
While Sullinger's sense of humor is no surprise, his consistency from deep is exceeding most reasonable people's expectations. While the Celtics' record is projected by most fans and reporters to end up not much higher than Sullinger's three point percentage last year, he isn't down on their prospects - obviously.
"I won't say that we're gonna suck," he said. "What kind of teammate would I be?"
But will the Celtics be a surprise? In Brad we trust, his players are preaching.
"I think we're going to surprise some people," he declared. "Like I said, I think the way we play this year compared to last year [are] two different teams. [The] Offense is totally different from last year and Brad's mindset from coaching is totally different from last year. He's doing a great job and we're just following his lead."
Stevens has quickly become one of the most popular coaches in the league, despite a rookie campaign ending with a record that would get the seat heated up with most franchises. But the Celtics' record is just about the only thing in the world making Stevens look bad. Ask any player or coach, and the rave fest ensues.
"I just think Stevens knows what he wants," Sullinger said. "He knows what he wants to do offensively and defensively. He has a great mindset towards the NBA game, I believe. You just see throughout every game that we play, he makes tweaks throughout every game.
The coach that defines the term "fresh faced" was beloved last year for the program he was installing. Now he is putting that program into practice with capability to match.
"Last year I thought it was just one mindset. We want to do this, we want to do that. And that was it. Now he's making adjustments from game to game. Offensively, we have so many more sets than last year already that involves movement and player personnel. I just think it's extremely helpful to the team that we have."
While the roster continues to be slightly overloaded at certain spots and devoid in others, the creativity and efficiency that Stevens wants to implement is starting to rear its head. Even if thing look a lot worse come November, at least he's got plenty of fans playing for him.