The debut of the much anticipated Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk frontcourt combination — one to which Celtics  president of basketball operations Danny Ainge even admitted his intrigue — didn’t come until midway through the second quarter of the team’s first preseason game. And even then only lasted 8:29 in spurts.
Based on the early returns, we’ll be seeing a lot more of the Sully-O clinic early and often. Actually, don’t be surprised if that duo with 45 NBA games between them ultimately takes over the starting 4 and 5 spots.
“I don’t have a plus/minus report right now, so I don’t know,” said coach Brad Stevens  after his first game on the Celtics sidelines, a 97-89 loss to the Raptors, “but I thought they played pretty well together.”
When Stevens took a look at that report and watched film later Monday night — his self-imposed requirement before sleeping — he discovered this: Olynyk and Sullinger owned a plus-7 rating, combining for 10 points (4-8 FG), four assists and three rebounds in their 8:29 on the floor together. Of the nine Celtics field goals in those 509 seconds, the rookie and the sophomore either scored or assisted on seven of them.
When Stevens added Gerald Wallace  to that frontcourt mix — forming a complementary trio of flair, hair and derriere that the coach has praised throughout training camp — the production was unmistakable.
“The one thing I’ve learned about Gerald Wallace in my short time knowing him is he’s going to give it everything he has, regardless of whether it’s in practice, an exhibition game or a regular-season game,” added Stevens. “That guy plays hard, and it’ll be good. I think that sets a really good tone for our team.”
Wallace played all 8:29 alongside Olynyk and Sullinger, and as a group they totaled 16 points (6-12 FG), seven assists and four boards. That trio either scored or assisted on all nine field goals in those 509 seconds. They’re 36-minute averages: plus-30, 68 points, 30 assists and 17 rebounds. In their own words:
- Sullinger: “Very unselfish players. I mean, honestly, everybody’s very unselfish, but they just always move, especially Kelly and Gerald. I don’t know about myself. I don’t think I’ll be moving like them. They’re constantly moving, constantly open, so it’s easy to find them.”
- Olynyk: “Guys are making hard cuts, setting good screens. You want to reward them for that kind of stuff. Any time you get other people involved and make people around you better, that’s a great thing to do in the game of basketball.”
- Wallace: “They’re able to spread the floor. I’m a slasher. I’m a guy who likes to get to the rim and cut. Those guys are able to spread the floor, pop back, shoot 3’s, knock down the 15-footers and it opens up the middle of the floor for me to cut and drive. And then on top of that, when I’m cutting, those guys with the ball I think they’re great passers. They’re able to make the passes that I need when I’m cutting. I think that’s what benefits all of our games.”
Sure, this is a ridiculously small sample size, but it’s also got ridiculously large potential. And, as a result, the Celtics might actually have an unfamiliar thing called frontcourt depth this season.