Celtics

Sullinger looks to get plenty of burn early on for Celtics

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Sullinger looks to get plenty of burn early on for Celtics

BOSTON As an NBA rookie, gaining the trust of the coaching staff and teammates is essential to growth.

That growth is followed by opportunity.

And opportunity leads to success, struggles or for most talented rookies, a little bit of both.

But one thing is clear with the Celtics finishing off the preseason portion of their schedule on Sunday: Sullinger is going to play, possibly as a starter.

For a player who has never lacked confidence, the idea of even being in the discussion to start as a rookie this soon is a bit of a shock.

"We got a lot of guys that have been in the league for a long time; couple dinosaurs but I ain't gonna point them out," quipped Sullinger. "I'm surprised. I'm very surprised. But that comes with hard work and dedication to the game and just never cheating yourself."

And basketball smarts, which is what most of his teammates believe separates him from other rookies in past years with the C's.

"(Sullinger is) probably the smartest rookie we've had since I've been here," said Boston's Rajon Rondo. "He's very intelligent, high basketball IQ, and he's very unselfish."

Added Pierce: "He's definitely beyond his years as far as basketball IQ and what he's capable of doing."

And his impact has come without too many plays being called for him.

"He doesn't need a play called for him," Rondo said.

But he's still a rookie, prone to making rookie mistakes such as fouling too much.

During a recent preseason game, Rivers elected to keep him on the floor even after he got into foul trouble.

"He can't play enough minutes," Rivers said.

And there's a chance the minutes he does get will come with the starting lineup.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers had him and Brandon Bass both spend time with the starting unit, with both playing well. However, Sullinger's play generated more interest due to him being a rookie while Bass' game is a known commodity.

"I'm not looking for one thing," Rivers said. "I want to try different lineups. Eventually, one we'll like a lot."

And that lineup may indeed include Sullinger, who was chosen by a panel of NBA general managers as the "rookie to most likely be a 'sleeper' success" this season.

"I could care less," said Sullinger about the possibility of starting. "I just want to win. That's my main objective. For everybody who thinks I'm gonna start or come off the bench, as long as we win I'm fine."

Marcus Morris targeting Oct. 30 game vs. Spurs as date for Celtics debut

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Marcus Morris targeting Oct. 30 game vs. Spurs as date for Celtics debut

WALTHAM -- It appears Marcus Morris’ debut for the Celtics will be when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 30.
 
The 6-foot-9 forward confirmed to reporters on Monday that, for now, that’s the target date.
 
Morris spent time after practice playing some one-one-one against rookie Jayson Tatum.
 
“I’m trying to push on it a little more,” he said. “Felt pretty good beating the rook’s ass one-on-one.”
 
The addition of Morris to the lineup can’t come soon enough for the Celtics (1-2).  They have already lost Gordon Hayward (ankle) for the season, and Marcus Smart (ankle) missed Friday’s win over Philadelphia. Smart said he would probably be in uniform for Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks. 
 
Those injuries have forced the Celtics to dig deeper into their roster, resulting in several first-year players seeing action. 
 
Having a veteran like Morris on the floor would bode well for the Celts in their quest to remain among the better teams in the East this season. 
 
Morris, who went through the non-contact portion of practice on Monday, joined the Celtics on Oct. 5, shortly after he and his brother Markieff (who plays for Washington) were acquitted of assault charges involving an incident in Phoenix in January of 2015. He appeared in one preseason game, scoring seven points on 3-for-6 shooting from the field.

Coach Brad Stevens said Morris was having some knee discomfort when he showed up for training camp. That, combined with showing up late to training camp because of his court case in Phoenix, resulted in him not having the level of conditioning he’s used to at the start of training camp. 
 
“It’s not that I’m in bad shape,” he told NBC Sports Boston earlier. “It’s just that I’m not where I expect myself to be conditioning-wise, right now.”
 
Morris echoed similar sentiments on Monday. 
 
“I’m in great condition,” he said. “I just want to be a little better. My conditioning has never been the problem. It’s the soreness in my [left] knee. It’s gotten a lot better over the past 10 days, so I feel I can play now. But be cautious because it’s a long season.”
 
Morris was acquired in the summer by Boston from Detroit, in exchange for Avery Bradley. The move was done to not only ensure there was enough salary cap space to sign then-free agent Gordon Hayward, but also for the Celtics to add a versatile player who can play both forward positions.