A week ago we were discussing the loss of the Celtics leader and all-star point guard, Rajon Rondo. Not only had the team lost their fearless leader but also managed to blow a 27 point lead in Atlanta leaving the team standing at 20-23 on the year. At that point all of the league and Celtics nation were left thinking, not much else could go wrong. This proved not to be true as the Celtics injury plague continued when news surfaced that Jared Sullinger left the game verse Miami with back spasms. Original reports listed Sully as day-to-day while both Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge insisted the injury was minor and posed no long term threat.
Once again this proved to be wrong as shockingly the Celtics team reported Sullinger's season was over as he faced season ending back surgery. Just hours after the terrible news was reported we received further news that Jared immediately underwent successful lumbar disc surgery at New England Baptist Hospital. In less than a week the Celtics had lost two of their starters and all over the news the Celtics obituary was written while trade rumors stacked up.
Jared Sullinger - To start I think it's only fitting that we first pay tribute to Sully's contributions this season and obviously wish him a quick, painless recovery. Coming into this year the Celtics were fortunate enough that Jared fell to the 21st pick and were able to get such a talent so late in the draft. In the weeks leading up to the draft it was well documented that Sully was medically flagged by NBA doctors due to concerns with his back. Drafting Sullinger would be a high risk, high reward gamble for any team that took the chance.
Jared opted to stay at home on draft day and anxiously waited being passed over twenty times as the draft rolled on. With the 21st overall pick the Boston Celtics selected Jared Sullinger and 45 games into the season he looked to be the steal of the draft. The 6'9" forward averaged 6 points and 5.9 rebounds in 19.8 minutes on the season. Jared's performance substantially improved as the season went on until he eventually carved out his role as the teams top rebounder. He became a difference maker on the boards keeping offensive possessions alive with his high basketball I.Q. and rebounding ability. Sully even managed to rejoin the starting line-up for the foreseeable future until the season ending news surfaced.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger... I'm sure my man @jared_sully0 will have asuccessful recovery!!!!
— Leandro Barbosa (@TheBlur_Barbosa) February 1, 2013
Jared reportedly was released on Saturday from the hospital and now faces the tough road to recovery. For now the Celtics organization believes he should be back in full form for the start of next years training camp. One can only hope that this surgery will put an end to the young rookies back troubles and from here he can have a long and prosperous career.
Unfortunately injuries have plagued the Celtics the last few seasons and more surprisingly they've come from Boston's youth as opposed to the "old" veterans on the roster. One positive takeaway the Celtics have from their injuries is the encouragement and advice players like Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, and Chris Wilcox can all provide. Each sustained their own season ending injuries and have a story to tell that will surely benefit Jared in his recovery.
It's great to see the players supporting one another showing their true bond as teammates. Rondo, Keyon Dooling, Courtney Lee, and Jeff Green have all gone to visit Sully since his surgury and had some further news about his diagnosis.
"They said he'll be out for like six weeks, as far as not being able to do anything, and then after that he'll be able to move around do little stuff, as far as with weights and whatnot. But he's in good spirits." - Courtney Lee (Full Article)
They also attempted to look at the bright side of the situation noting the benefit of completing the surgery so early in his career.
"We just talked about him moving forward and how he was able to get this done at 20 when he's young," Lee said. "His body's going to recover and heal faster than if he was 28 or 30. So we were just trying to address all the positives out of the situation." - Courtney Lee
Since receiving news of Sullinger and Rondo's injuries Doc has managed to refocus the team and use the adversity as fuel to play better. The Celtics are on a four game win streak with big wins over the Miami Heat last Sunday and the L.A. Clippers this Sunday. It seems like the team has finally found it's identity with a "us against the world" mentality and in doing so everyone has stepped up.
The new free flowing offense has created a very balanced attack as we've seen a new higher scorer each game. The Celtics have even had five to six players finishing in double-digit scoring each game during their streak. For some sharing the ball-handling role has certainly benefited. Jason Terry has finally emerged as the six man the Celtics expected and Jeff Green has been on a ferocious tear filled with highlight dunks.
Disbelievers and critics will say this is simply a fluke as the Celtics faced two poor teams in the Kings and Magic while also facing the Clippers without their All-Star point guard Chris Paul. These things may be true but I'm not one to count this team out just yet. It's not the most likely situation but one thing is certain, this team now truly has an identity and has lit a fire.
Fab Melo - The Celtics original approach to the Fab Melo experiment was draft a young seven foot raw talent and slowly let his game develop with the D-League affiliate Maine Red Claws. Throughout the year we have reported on Melo's progress and seen some glimpses of greatness. Fab was recalled to the Celtics last week simply get some time with the team's doctors and participate in their practice in Waltham.
#Celtics rookie Fab Melo working 1-on-1 in post with assistant coach Armond Hill before practice.
— Scott Souza (@scott_souza) January 31, 2013
In light of Jared's situation the team then decided to activate Melo to the active roster to increase their frontcourt depth. I have the privilege of saying I was in attendance for last Friday's game against the Magic. The team played a great overall game amassing a lead large enough for Fab to make his NBA debut on February 1st with three minutes left in the game.
All your NBA news pales in comparison to the dawn of the Fab Melo era.
— Paul Flannery (@Pflanns) February 1, 2013
Fab would play the final three minutes in the game but only managed to record 1 steal to his resume. I must say I highly anticipated his debut. To be clear I certainly was not thinking he would somehow put up mesmerizing numbers but I made sure I was ready, phone in hand, to record his first career rebound...or so I thought.
I should have known after writing numerous reports on Melo that you always have to account for "Fab being Fab" as Doc puts it. In his first NBA minutes during Gino's time Fab didn't disappoint. It'll be interesting to see how he'll fair moving forward on the Celtics team. He will most likely remain active on the roster as the Celtics only have 13 players, two of which are out with seasoning ending injuries. This leaves the team extremely thin with just 11 bodies making Fab's added depth much needed as a safety net.
Only time will tell how the rest of Fab Melo's season will play out. The NBA trade deadline is February 21st and while many believe the Celtics need to make a trade, they really don't have much to offer. It should be noted that the Celtics face a very tough five game road stretch starting February 19, two days before the deadline. It'll be interesting to see if the Celtics take Fab Melo with them for their trip or instead opt to get him extended playing time back at the D-League Red Claws for the week.
Going forth our Celtic Green Rookie Reports look to be very light. We're down to only one active rookie and if Fab Melo stays with the Celtics there might not be much to report on with his limited playing time. We'll also make sure to keep up on any and all news about Jared Sullinger's recovery but as noted earlier in Courtney Lee's quote, Sully isn't expected to do much of anything for about six weeks time.