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Pregame: Sullinger (knee) available for C's

11/15/2013

BOSTON -- Celtics forward Jared Sullinger is available for Friday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers after sitting out Wednesday's loss to the Charlotte Bobcats due to right knee soreness.

Sullinger suffered a bone bruise taking a charge from the Orlando Magic's Moe Harkless on Monday. He underwent an MRI on Tuesday after sitting out practice, and lingering soreness prevented him from getting back on the floor Wednesday.

He returned to practice Thursday and had said he planned to play against the Blazers.

What did the Celtics miss without Sullinger?

"We're not as good on the block, obviously, and throwing it into the post [on Monday] night against Orlando, we went on a 4-0 run when we were down 19-15 by just throwing him the ball," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "So it gives us a little bit more flexibility playing inside/out. That's been when we've been at our best. Nonetheless, we still have guys that can play down there, but he probably is our best low-post player."

The 6-foot-9 Sullinger is averaging 11.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 19.7 minutes per game (seven appearances). He is a team-best plus-38 this season.

The Celtics will need Sullinger on Friday as Stevens heaped a lot of praise on the Blazers.

"First of all, they are really talented," said Stevens. "There’s a great example of something -- when I was coaching at Butler, I may not have known how talented the Portland Trail Blazers were. Now you watch them on film, and you realize, wow, they’ve got continuity, they’ve got guys that have been there a couple of years in a lot of cases, and the talent and the length is hard to deny. Obviously, with a guy like [Damian] Lillard, he’s kinda the head of the snake, but then you’ve got between [Nicolas] Batum and [Wesley] Matthews and [LaMarcus] Aldridge is averaging 22 points per game, and all the way down their lineup. That’s a good basketball team and really good offensively, and from everything I can tell numbers wise, playing their best defense, maybe in a couple of years."

Stevens noted how the Blazers are shooting a sizzling 48 percent beyond the 3-point arc in wins (with that number dipping to 31 percent in losses).

"This is a team right now that has really -- I mean, 48 percent from 3s in wins, and that’s six of their eigth games, and I don’t know what they are shooting on the season, but that’s high-level," he said. "So we’re going to have to be really good at defending the 3-point line and, at the same time, their highest scorer is a face-up post guy in Aldridge."