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Celtics notebook

Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk solid off the bench

Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger have become a 1-2 punch off the bench for the Celtics.JARED WICKERHAM/GETTY IMAGES

INDIANAPOLIS – Rajon Rondo (knee) was sidelined, then returned. Gerald Wallace (knee, ankle) was playing, now he’s out for the season — and the same is now true for Vitor Faverani (knee).

Jared Sullinger (concussion), Kelly Olynyk (ankle, toe), Jerryd Bayless (toe), and Avery Bradley (ankle) have all been banged up and in and out of the lineup for stretches.

Injuries have robbed the Celtics’ rotation of consistency this season. Granted, it’s not as though the team was dreaming of winning a title, but coach Brad Stevens was at least hoping to get a sense of what he had to work with.


Instead, Stevens often has spent the majority of his pregame media briefings giving medical updates.

One possible silver lining — and this qualifies as reaching — is Stevens, whose 22-41 Celtics play the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers (46-17) Tuesday, has been forced to try a variety of combinations, which has given him a better sense of chemistry.

And lately, he’s become fond of the Olynyk and Sullinger pairing, two young forwards who have come off the bench to provide a potent scoring punch and potentially a preview of how effective they might be together down the road.

Sullinger, who recently missed three games because of a concussion, has averaged 10 points and 7.5 rebounds in his last four games off the bench. Olynyk who recently missed a pair of games with a sprained toe, has averaged 16.7 points and 6 rebounds in his last three games.

“Kelly and Sully coming off the bench . . . continues to be a pretty skilled group together but also, you know, [they’re] maturing from the standpoint of understanding the NBA game and really playing at this speed,” Stevens said.

Against Detroit Sunday, Olynyk scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Sullinger added 14 points and eight rebounds.


“We’ve got some secrets out there that we know how to score the basketball when we’re in the game together,” Sullinger said. “Y’all won’t get all my secrets. You probably won’t get none of them. But we’re just out there playing hard.”

Part of their effectiveness together is that both forwards have similar skill sets — they’re savvy and versatile, able to handle the ball and shoot from the outside.

Speaking of Sullinger, Olynyk said, “He’s got a great IQ. He’s a great guy to play with, because he can shoot the ball as well, space the floor. Stuff just opens up when he’s on the floor.

“We played a lot together at the beginning of the year as well. He’s a great guy to have.”

Speaking of Olynyk, Sullinger said, “Kelly is a great passing big. I can pass at times, but we just kind of play off of one another. We kind of read each other.”

The two have played together for just 343 total minutes, but they’ve been effective enough in tandem during that small sample size to get both Stevens and Celtics fans excited about the future.

Olynyk, a rookie, has started to come into his own lately. The Celtics’ 2013 first-round draft pick out of Gonzaga has been far more aggressive looking to score instead of deferring to others, which was his biggest issue earlier this season.

“I think a lot of it is just realizing that you are open when you’re open,” Olynyk said. “And just kind of being aggressive.”


Sullinger, a second-year forward and 2012 first-round draft pick, also joked that Olynyk ought to be playing well this time of year, considering that Olynyk has missed 12 games with injuries.

“He has [fresh] legs,” Sullinger said. “I don’t think he hit the rookie wall yet. Hopefully he doesn’t hit it at all.”

Freeding frenzy

After his 18-assist performance Sunday, Rondo made reference to “feeding the pig.” That might not sound like typical basketball jargon, but it’s a phrase former Celtics coach Doc Rivers used when he wanted his players to feed the hot hand . . . As part of the NBA’s ninth St. Patrick’s Day program, the Celtics will be one of two teams to wear special sleeved uniforms, which they’ll unveil Friday against Phoenix at TD Garden. The Celtics will also wear the uniforms Sunday at New Orleans and Monday at Dallas. The jerseys, designed by Adidas, are green with gold lettering and numbering. The Bulls are the other team wearing special uniforms this year.

Baxter Holmes can be reached at baxter.holmes@gl obe.com Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.