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Celtics vs. Pacers: Jared Sullinger to start over Kelly Olynyk

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Sullinger has moved back into the starting lineup over Kelly Olynyk, as the Celtics prepare to take on the Pacers. Olynyk was named a starter five games ago to increase the team's floor spacing, but has struggled on both ends. Over that stretch, Olynyk is scoring 9.2 points per game on a subpar 44.9 eFG percentage.

"We're 1-4 and just wanted to go and see if we can find a different rhythm there," Stevens said before the game. "It's nothing Kelly did or didn't do. But, you know, obviously Amir [Johnson] has played really well and I hope that continues. I thought Sully had a really good night, especially in that second half run last night."

Stevens says it's not Olynyk's individual play, but he absolutely has struggled defensively. On multiple instances he missed rotations or left his assignment open, lacking the focus required to run a cohesive defensive unit.

Over those five games, opponents are also shooting 53.7 percent when Olynyk is the closest defender, per SportVU, about 9 percent worse than the NBA average.

Perhaps the real reason though, is the oomph the Celtics lose on the boards when Olynyk is in the game. Over the last five contests, the Celtics rebound only 65.6 percent of opponent misses when Olynyk is in, compared to 77.1 percent when Jared Sullinger is on the floor.

Stevens suggested this is one reason why Sullinger is getting the call against Indiana's stout starting frontcourt of Ian Mahinmi and Lavoy Allen. With both of them on the floor, the Pacers have an elite 81.8 rebounding percentage.

"[The Pacers] have been starting big," said Stevens, "if they do [decide to start big, Sullinger] gives us a better chance to rebound the ball."

Sullinger has been one of the best rebounders in the NBA this season, snatching 12.2 defensive boards per 100 possessions, and could provide the necessary boost to slow down Indiana.