The first six minutes of the Boston Celtics’ post-All-Star break slate were just about perfect.
The Celtics scored on seven of their first nine possessions Friday against the Sacramento Kings, shooting them out to a quick 16-2 lead.
But as strong as Boston’s start to the first quarter was, the way they finished the frame was equally as horrendous.
With Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk both sidelined due to injury, Celtics coach Brad Stevens inserted 6-foot-7 Gerald Wallace at center on Boston’s super-small second unit. That strategy backfired.
The Kings, who trailed by 16 points at the time, ripped off a 17-0 run to grab a one-point advantage in the final seconds of the frame — all while their best player, center DeMarcus Cousins, watched from the bench. Sacramento held that lead for all but 20 seconds over the final three quarters en route to a 109-101 win.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with height,” Stevens told reporters after the game. “I thought it had to do with the speed. I thought they just went right around us in that period of time. They were going up and down the floor — Cousins wasn’t even in. … They came out blazing with that second unit.”
— Sullinger was not available for the Celtics on Friday, and he won’t be for quite some time as he recovers from a stress reaction in his left foot.
“I think it’s going to be a while, but I don’t know what the timing means,” Stevens said in an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand” on Friday. “It’s not a fracture, it’s a stress reaction in his left foot. Those are just as scary, and it could be an extended amount of time. The trainers don’t want to put a time frame on it, and that makes sense to me. The bottom line is we have to get him better, and we have to get rid of that thing so he can move forward healthy.”
For some context on exactly how long Sullinger might be out, former Celtics forward Paul Pierce missed 24 games due to a stress reaction during the 2006-07 season.
— Tyler Zeller started in Sullinger’s place and did an admirable job on Cousins, Sacramento’s All-Star big, but he was limited to just 31 minutes and could not prevent Cousins from going off for 31 points and 15 rebounds — both game highs.
“There’s not much we’re doing about (Cousins) right at the rim,” Stevens said. “Our guys tried to, and they were pretty active, and Tyler played pretty well against him. But that’s why you try to make him catch going away from the basket and get as much help as you can.”
— If you haven’t watched Cousins’ posterization of Jae Crowder (and Crowder’s response), click here. Like, right now.
— Boston’s bench has been one of its strengths this season. Well, take away Olynyk, Marcus Thornton and Tayshaun Prince, and you have a second unit that made a negligible impact on the game and combined to finish with a miserable minus-68 rating. It is important to remember that the C’s went into Sacramento with just 10 available bodies, though, which obviously limited their options.
— The Celtics also were without their three new acquisitions: Isaiah Thomas, Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome. Jerebko and Datome already are in Los Angeles and will be available Sunday against the Lakers, while Thomas’ status for that game remains up in the air.
— This is not how you basketball, Carl Landry.
Thumbnail photo via Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY Sports Images