Celtics

Blakely: Tougher to replace Sullinger than Rondo

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Blakely: Tougher to replace Sullinger than Rondo

BOSTON Losing Rajon Rondo for the season was a major blow to the Boston Celtics.

Losing Jared Sullinger?

In many ways, even bigger.

"He's been our best rebounder," said Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations. "He's a complete player and he'll be tough to replace."

The Celtics had a pretty good idea of what it would take to ease the loss of Rondo, who is out for the season following a torn right ACL injury.

But replicating what Sullinger brought to the floor, isn't quite that simple.

"He (Sullinger) does so many of the intangibles for us, the dirty work," C's guard Courtney Lee told CSNNE.com. "It's going to be tough filling that void. But if we want to win, we don't have a choice, really."

The 6-foot-9 rookie is out for the remainder of the season after having lumbar disc surgery performed on Friday at the New England Baptist Hospital.

While Lee is confident that the C's can manage without Sullinger, he admits that the challenge is different - and some ways tougher to overcome - than the loss of Rondo.

"We changed the system up a little bit with me and Avery (Bradley) out there playing," said Lee. "But without Jared, that's really tough. He's one of our best rebounders, and that's one area we've struggled with all year; limiting teams to second chance points. But we have to find a way, man. Find a way."

Celtics forward Jeff Green told CSNNE.com that Sullinger's ability to impact the game by doing the "little things" is why losing a player of his stature is so difficult to replace.

When asked what Sullinger brings to the floor that doesn't necessarily show up in the final stats sheet, Green said, "toughness, smarts; his basketball IQ is off the charts. Everything in a big you want, he has. We'll miss him a lot."

But the C's took a major step in the right direction on Friday, their first game without Sullinger.

Not only did they win the rebounding battle (48-47), but they did it with a strong across-the-board effort that had seven different Boston players grab at least three rebounds.

"We're a committee; we have to be a team by committee," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "I'm asking guys to play different spots. That's how we're going to have to play."

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the Magic at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Time for Streak 2.0?

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Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

That Celtics win streak was dope. Let’s map out an even longer one that probably won’t happen. 

Nobody’s actually expecting them to keep the pace they’ve established with their recently concluded run. Still, with 63 games remaining, there’s still time for the Celtics to have up to three win streaks of even longer than 16 games. So, because it’s the holidays and the holidays are all about positivity (fun move you’ve probably picked up from movies: You can say “the holidays are all about _____” and just put in whatever you want and it will work), let’s map out the next win streak. 

MORE CELTICS:

A big part of the Celtics’ 16-gamer (and get ready to say “duh”) is that they were better than a lot of the teams they beat. But they also beat one team that was without question better than them and beat a few teams that could certainly beat them on any given night. 

Here’s a rough breakdown of the 16 games: 

- Even if they didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, nine games were against what could be classified as easy prey based on their rosters and how those teams were playing: The 76ers, the Knicks, the Kings, the Hawks twice, the Lakers, the Hornets, the Nets and the Mavericks. 

- Let’s say that the Heat (whom they played and beat during the streak before Miami snapped the streak Wednesday) and Magic weren’t perceived pushovers, but rather unremarkable opponents. 

- Four games were against what one could call worthy opponents for the Celtics: the Bucks, the Spurs (though they were missing Kawhi Leonard), the Thunder and the Raptors. 

- Nobody was ever pretending the Celtics were actually better than the Warriors. 

So that breaks the 16 games into one game against an unequivocally superior opponent, four against worthy opponents, two against unremarkable teams, and nine joke books. 

Of course, there are several variables that can be thrown into that, such as the fact that the C’s beat one of the aforementioned good teams (Toronto) without Kyrie Irving and nearly lost to two of those trash teams (Charlotte and Dallas). You can’t predict injuries just like you shouldn’t predict win streaks, but let’s take all the information we have and try to find the next one:

STARTING FRIDAY

Friday vs. Magic (trash; probable win)

Saturday at Pacers (unremarkable; potential loss)

A back-to-back after a holiday with the second game on the road against a team that’s been way better than expected? I don’t like the sound of it. 

Nov. 27 vs. Pistons (worthy opponent; potential loss)

Are they overrated? Maybe, but Pistons currently hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference. Whether it’s the Pacers or the Pistons, I think this short stretch prevents a speed bump. The streak might have to wait. 

STARTING NOV. 30

Nov. 30 against Sixers (upgraded to unremarkable based on recent play; still win)

Remember: The last streak started against the Sixers. Hopefully, Kyrie pays that fans’ way to Boston for a halftime reunion. 

Dec. 2 vs. Suns (trash; win)

Dec. 4 vs. Bucks (worthy opponent; win)

Celtics aren’t losing to those sons of guns twice at home. 

Dec. 6 vs. Dallas (trash; win)

Can you get revenge on a team for almost beating you? Yes. The Celtics will. 

Dec. 8 at Spurs (worthy opponent; win)

Until I see Kawhi on the court, this one is a win. 

Dec. 10 at Detroit (worthy opponent; win)

The Pistons play the Spurs, Bucks and Warriors the three previous games. They’ll be all tuckered out. 

Dec. 11 through Dec. 23 (mix of unremarkable and trash opponents; seven wins)

Dec. 25 vs. Wizards (worthy opponent; win)

Terry Rozier becomes a household name with a Christmas performance for the ages. 

Dec. 27 at Charlotte (trash; win) 

Dec. 28 vs. Houston (worthy opponent; win) 

Dec. 31 vs. Brooklyn (trash; loss)

The Celtics are 0-1 the days prior to holidays this season. The streak ends at 18. 

THE REST OF THE SEASON

We'll assess it then, but for now, let's say undefeated (including playoffs).

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