Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger, sidelined the past three games due to a mild concussion, went through practice Friday and, if he responds well overnight, is expected to return to game action Saturday against the Indiana Pacers.
Sullinger took an elbow to the head from Chris Kaman of the Los Angeles Lakers last Friday. He woke up with a headache and sensitivity to light the next day and team doctors diagnosed the concussion. Sullinger passed all of the league's concussion protocol in recent days, but the team wants to see how he responds to his a full-contact practice before clearing him for Saturday's game.
"Sully has to go through [Friday's] practice, then it’s how he feels after [Friday's] practice, and into [Saturday] morning," said Stevens. "Clearly he's doing a lot better -- cleared to practice full, and that’s the way that these things go now. Each step that you take, you see how your body reacts the next day. If everything goes well [Friday], then I would expect he will play [Saturday]."
Sullinger said he felt like he was ready to return to game action Wednesday, but team doctors have prevented him from rushing the process.
"The good news about that is, it’s not his call," said Stevens. "You don’t mess with head injuries at any level in any sport. Certainly, as we’ve all gotten to know more about that, we become even more conservative, which is a good thing. Conservative is probably the wrong word, it’s probably just right to make sure that guys are back and ready. That’s the bottom line."
Sullinger said he went through conditioning work Thursday, including a bike test, and passed all the necessary testing.
Asked about his status for Saturday, Sullinger deferred to team trainer Ed Lacerte.
"It’ll probably be up to the man in the training room," said Sullinger. "He likes to make sure everybody is safe and sound. Safety is our main priority around here."
While aware of the severity of concussions, Sullinger did keep a lighthearted approach when asked if he's ever had a concussion in the past.
"I think I have a permanent concussion -- that’s what my dad tells me all the time," quipped Sullinger. "I guess I deal with it every day."
Sullinger isn't the only one battling injury. A full rundown from Friday's practice:
WALLACE (KNEE) LIKELY OUT FOR SEASON: Testing Thursday revealed that Celtics veteran swingman Gerald Wallace has a torn meniscus and will likely require season-ending surgery. Read more HERE.
BRADLEY (ANKLE) REEVALUATED NEXT WEEK: Celtics shooting guard Avery Bradley has missed 13 of the team's last 16 games due to a severe right ankle sprain, but he will be reevaluated late next week (which would mean he's likely to miss at least two more games). Said Stevens: "Avery is feeling a lot better. ... He’ll be reevaluated middle to end of next week. We anticipate good news in the very near future, which is great. I can’t wait to get Avery back."
OLYNYK (TOE) UNLIKELY VS. PACERS: Celtics rookie forward Kelly Olynyk sprained (then aggravated) the big toe on his left foot at the end of the team's four-game road trip out west. The team initially feared a break, but further testing showed the sprain. He's been wearing a boot this week and a return seems likely next week. "Kelly is ... unlikely [Saturday vs. the Pacers]; probable Wednesday [vs. the Warriors]. He’s just getting treatment on that toe and trying to get better."
FAVERANI (KNEE) COULD HAVE MINOR SURGERY: Celtics rookie center Vitor Faverani, who injured his left knee during a D-League assignment at the start of the month, sought a second opinion this week and could be headed under the knife to further investigate what's causing the swelling that has lingered. "They’ve tried to assess what is wrong with the knee, but he continues to have swelling," said Stevens. "He got a second opinion [Thursday] and... they may or may not decide to do a small surgical procedure. Again, not a long-term thing, but just to get in there and see it better."
While unlikely, if Sullinger can't suit up, the Celtics would operate with only nine available bodies Saturday, including only one pure big off the bench (Joel Anthony). In addition to injuries, Keith Bogans remains excused from the team, leaving just in-season signee Chris Johnson, undrafted rookie Phil Pressey, and recent 10-day signee Chris Babb on the Boston bench with Anthony.
Brian Robb contributed to this report from Waltham, Mass.