BOSTON – There has been another starting lineup change for the Celtics, as coach Brad Stevens is moving Jared Sullinger back into the starting lineup for Kelly Olynyk. Sullinger was moved to the bench for a few weeks, where he found his shooting stroke.
But the biggest need against Indiana is power and toughness in the post. Sullinger fits the bill better than Olynyk, who is a good rotating pivot defender, but can get tossed around by beefier bigs.
"We're 1-4 and just wanted to go and see if we can find a different rhythm there," Stevens said. "It's nothing Kelly did or didn't do. But, you know, obviously Amir 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."
"[The Pacers] have been starting big," Stevens said. "If they do [Sullinger] gives us a better chance to rebound the ball."
For Sullinger, not much changes. "The only thing different is sitting the first six minutes [instead of] running up and down the court," he said pregame.
Sully has been taking more midrange shots and actually hitting them in the past few games. It doesn’t necessarily mark a change for him strategically, but rather more of an adjustment to how the defense has been guarding him.
"It’s just taking what the defense gives me," Sullinger said. "I’m actually not really aware of where I’m popping to. I think that was my biggest thing, is just sometimes I’m just worried where I was popping and didn’t want to shoot a long two.
"Analytics say shoot the three. But I threw analytics out the door and said, ‘Wherever you pop, if you’re open, shoot it. If you’re not, move the ball."
Sullinger has tried to become an effective three-point shooter for the past three seasons, but it hasn’t materialized. So the less valuable, but more ascertainable midrange two is looking more appealing for him now.
"Right now it seems like the midrange shot has been wide open," he said. "Before, the three-point shot was wide open and they were taking away the midrange. I wasn’t shooting the ball as well. They would live or die by me shooting the jump shot. Hopefully I keep getting guarded like that."
With the way Sullinger has shot in the past month, he’ll take anything the defense will give him.