The Celtics have not played many games recently as they only had two last week against the Pacers and Wizards and one 2 nights ago against the Pacers again. They took the L last Wednesday against the Pacers in a close game. However, the Celtics got a huge win against the Wizards last Friday absolutely blowing them up. It has been a very up and down start to the season as the Celtics again lost to the Pacers. Marcus Smart played in neither of those games as he has been batting a toe injury that he should hopefully bounce back from soon. With Smart out, Isaiah Thomas has really stepped up, scoring 27 with 7 assists against the Pacers and 16 and 8 in limited minutes in the Wizards blowout.
Last game was tough to watch as the Celtics were seemingly playing good basketball until they decided to go absolutely cold in the final 7 minutes of the game. Marcus Smart came back, but was limited in only 21 minutes off the bench. Evan Turner really carried the load as his mid-range game was on point going for 20 points with 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
The story though is Jared Sullinger. Sullinger has been playing great basketball and looks to have really turned a corner. The blowout win against Washington was largely due to Sullinger, as he went for 21 points on 9-13 shooting with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. He did not play heavy minutes but that was mainly due to the blowout as he played most of the first half. In the 2nd loss to the Pacers, Sullinger netted himself a double double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. If Sullinger keeps playing like this I think a trade could definitely be in the cards for Danny Ainge. Plenty of teams need big men and I think this would be a good time to upgrade on Evan Turner or Kelly Olynyk.
With Sullinger playing well, Tyler Zeller has become nonexistent in the rotation. Zeller played well enough last year to earn more minutes and I would not be surprised at all if the Celtics capitalize on their depth and upgrade somewhere instead of having Zeller ride the pine all year.
Other guys that played well against the Wizards were Jae Crowder (12/10/5) and Kelly Olynyk (19/7/4/4). The Celtics are 100% keeping Crowder with the team friendly contract they gave him this summer. However, Olynyk could also be on the trading block with Sully. I doubt they deal both of them, but I would not be surprised if they were to choose one of them to build around longterm instead of keeping both.
One of my favorite players to watch in the early going has been R.J. Hunter. Hunter has clearly passed James Young on the depth chart and has begun to creep up into the 20-minute range. Last night, Hunter played 20 minutes with only 5 points. Certainly isnt wowing on the stat sheet, but he has looked good while out there and should continue to get more and more minutes as the season rolls on.
The Celtics have Atlanta tonight in another tough matchup. Atlanta has been playing well so this would be a huge win if the Celtics could pull it off. A trade seems inevitable at this point and maybe a slow start could force Danny Ainge's hand.
By: Jack Journeay