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Sullinger, Crowder lifting Celtics

Jared Sulliinger and Jae Crowder have proven to be a potent pair.Getty Images

Congratulations, you survived the first Sunday after football season.

Depressing, isn’t it?

While nothing will quite compare to the Patriots’ Super Bowl run, all is not lost when it comes to Boston sports.


While we don’t see a Celtics championship in the near future, there’s reason to be optimistic about where the team is heading.


So what have you missed in regards to the Green Team while you analyzed the Patriots and PSI? A lot, actually.

Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green are gone. So, who’s running the show on Causeway Street now? It isn’t just one guy, but a name does rise to the top over the others: Jared Sullinger.

Despite arriving to the TD Garden late before two recent home games and forcing Brad Stevens to bench him at the start of each game, Sullinger has stepped into more of a featured role – especially recently. He’s averaging 18.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists over the last four games in which the Celtics have gone 3-1.

Stevens is running more plays through Sullinger, while also encouraging him to shoot more – though we could do with less 3-pointers (28.7 percent from 3-point range).

In addition to Sullinger, forward Jae Crowder has impressed as of late.

Crowder was one of three players who came over from Dallas in the Rondo deal, and he’s the only player still on the team. That’s because both Danny Ainge and Stevens really like what Crowder, a three-year NBA veteran brings to the Celtics.

His numbers on the season don’t jump out at you – 5.5 points, 0.9 assists, and 2.3 rebounds – but like Sullinger, Crowder has had a strong late January and early February, averaging 12 points and 5.5 rebounds over the last four games.

What those numbers don’t show is the energy and defense Crowder displays out on the court, as the Celtics as a team are clamping down on opponents. Over the last 11 games, opponents have only reached 100 points three times.

Of course another big part of that is the defense played from Boston’s now starting backcourt of rookie Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley.

It’s no coincidence that since Smart took over the starting gig four games ago, the team has played a better brand of basketball – and just in time for your viewing pleasure.

“Guys in here are trying to win,” Crowder said last Friday after a Celtics win over the Sixers. “A lot of people counted us out, so we have a lot of pride in this locker room and the city has a lot of pride so we want to keep playing for those guys, playing for ourselves and playing basketball the right way to give ourselves a chance.”

 
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