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Sullinger has figured out NBA schedule maker

December 11. 2013 6:34PM

Jared Sullinger thinks he has figured out the NBA schedule maker.

According to him, it's not coincidental that Tuesday night's Celtics opponent was the Brooklyn Nets, with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and Wednesday night's at the Garden was Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers.

"I think it was set up," Sullinger said after last night's 104-96 loss to Nets. "I think once they saw the trade happen, they went for a back-to-back. Former teammates and a former head coach? It was all set up."

Not that Sullinger minds. The lessons he learned from Rivers as a rookie last season will last for the rest of his career.

"I can't be a rookie, that's one thing he kept telling me," Sullinger said. "You want to play, you can't be a rookie. He always pushed me. He was the hardest on me — he was on every damn thing I did. It was almost like playing for my father all over again. It means a lot — one, because he played in this league, and two, because he won a championship in this league (as coach of the Celtics). It really helped in my development."

Jeff Green, who played one college season at Georgetown with Rivers' son Jeremiah, has been listening to the coach for seemingly an eternity.

"He made me look in the mirror to become the player I am," Green said. "I've known Doc since I was a sophomore in college. He's done a lot for me and this organization. We just have to try and beat his team."

Brad Stevens, asked whether he had any sense of competition with the man he succeeded as coach of the Celtics, shook his head.

"I don't know Doc very well," Stevens said. "I've met him maybe once at coaches meetings, and I've talked to him on the phone maybe twice in my life. I have a lot of respect for him and what he accomplished here, what he's doing there, and for his staff. But there's nothing extra from me. It's not about me."

Rajon Rondo is keeping whatever joy he has for Rivers' return to Boston self-contained.

"I'm not an emotional guy, so I won't tear up or anything," Rondo said with his usual deadpanned expression.

Crawford steps up

Jordan Crawford would rather just play the game than talk about anything concerning his recent run, which led to the Celtics guard being named the NBA's Eastern Conference player of the week.

"It just means we're playing well as a team, and they're making it easier on me. I thank my teammates," Crawford said before the morning shootaround at Baruch College in Manhattan. "It's taking advantage of matchups and picking your spots. As a point guard you always have the ball, so it's easy to get into a rhythm. You have to get a rhythm for your teammates. You're just getting into a flow. I feel comfortable, period."

Rondo, though, has noticed some big steps by his fellow guard, especially where outside opinions of Crawford's game and reputation are considered.

"He's come along extremely well," Rondo said. "A lot of people probably had negative things to say about Jordan at the beginning of the year, but he's been nothing but a great teammate. Guys like playing with him. He's leading this team right now.

"Jordan's been in the league now for four years, so it's not new for him to play the point guard position. He's been a 2 more than a 1, but it's not a hard transition for him. He's comfortable in what he's doing."

Doc's diagnosis

Rivers recently told Bleacher Report that minutes restrictions are behind the slow starts by Pierce and Garnett with their new team. Nets coach Jason Kidd was diplomatic last night in response to Rivers' offering an opinion on his players.

"That's Doc's opinion, and I respect that opinion," Kidd said. "Some of the restriction is because the games were out of hand."

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