COMMENTARY | Many figured that the Boston Celtics would not be terribly competitive this season after hitting the reset button during the offseason. While they certainly haven't been great by any measure, the Celtics find themselves right in the thick of the pathetic Atlantic Division.
With a loaded draft class approaching, the idea of tanking has been a hot topic amongst fans. The Celtics were often brought up in this conversation, particularly with their best player, Rajon Rondo, recovering from a torn ACL. The roster is largely unproven, and there is surely a learning curve with new head coach Brad Stevens.
NBA players simply don't tank. It's not in their nature. Front office motives are one thing, but the players are simply too competitive and too proud to intentionally lose games. Just ask Jared Sullinger.
Sully had some strong words, saying that "they can kiss our butts about that tanking stuff." Interesting talk from a player on a 7-12 team, but it's nice to see that Sullinger is staying fiery even though the team hasn't been great.
The entire Eastern Conference is a disaster, but the Celtics are hanging in there. Nobody in the East is particularly good outside of the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, particularly following Derrick Rose's season ending injury. Two big-name teams with high expectations, the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks, find themselves in the league cellar. The Atlantic Division crown is there for anyone who decides to show up.
Sullinger has been very good in his second year out of Ohio State. He's averaging 13.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game on 48.7% shooting. He's stretched his game out to the three-point line, which has given the Boston offense some extra operating space. When Rondo returns, the Celtics could have a dangerous pick-and-roll combination with Rondo's ability to attack and Sullinger's shooting.
Their record isn't good, but it's just as good as almost everyone else in the East. If you still think the Celtics are tanking, you should have a word with Jared Sullinger.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering New England sports for various blogs over the past 4 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.
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- Boston Celtics
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