BOSTON — Jared Sullinger was back in uniform Saturday, though not exactly better than ever. In his first game since suffering a concussion more than a week ago, the second-year big man shot just 4-for-12 from the field and committed three fouls in 25 minutes off the bench.
Brad Stevens wasn’t complaining. At least Sullinger was on the court. Having any legitimate NBA player healthy and ready to play amounts to a luxury for the Boston Celtics at the moment.
“I’m fine,” Sullinger said after the game. “I had a lot of energy. I did some conditioning the past two days to try to get my heart rate up and get used to running up and down the floor. I’m great.”
Sullinger’s positive prognosis is music to the ears of Stevens, who has juggled his rotation to account for a borderline ridiculous series of injuries. Kelly Olynyk has missed the last two games with a sprained left big toe, Avery Bradley has appeared in only three of the last 14 games with a sprained right ankle, Vitor Faverani is getting a second look taken at his sore left knee and Gerald Wallace is out for the rest of the season with a torn meniscus.
The Celtics could redub themselves “Rajon Rondo and the 10-Days” now that Chris Babb has joined former 10-day contract signee Chris Johnson on the bench.
Relief could be on the way. Stevens wouldn’t say Olynyk would return “for sure” Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors, but he is hopeful. Bradley has no set timeline, though he should be re-evaluated this week. Faverani’s status is uncertain, though less pressing given his limited role before the injury.
In the meantime, Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass have eaten up their share of minutes and played well. Humphries in particular was feeling it Saturday, when he put up 18 points and 10 rebounds against the Pacers in Sullinger’s usual spot in the starting lineup. Stevens wouldn’t say when Sullinger will start again, nor would he judge Sullinger’s fitness based on one game against the likes of Roy Hibbert and David West.
“I don’t know about the starting lineup thing,” Stevens said. “We’ll kind of play it the way we’ve played it and look at it when Kelly gets back, all four of those guys and also Joel (Anthony). I think (Sullinger) was rusty, but I think he did a lot of good things. He got some huge rebounds for us, and that’s not an easy team for him to score inside the paint on.”
If there is ever a good time to deal with a rash of injuries, it would be right now for the Celtics. They are at home through March 15, save for a quick trip to Indiana, with only one back-to-back set in that 13-day span.