For years, fans of the Boston Celtics have been pelted with a bevy of news articles attempting to stake the claim that power forward Jared Sullinger has lost weight, improved his figure, and upped his ability to finally capitalize on his potential in the paint.
Now, the Beantown faithful is finally witnessing these claims come to life.
Sullinger shot 9 of 13 from the field in a 21-point, eight-rebound, and two-block performance in just 22 minutes of action to lead the Celtics (2-3) to a dominant 118-98 win over the Washington Wizards (3-2).
Point guard Isaiah Thomas added 16 points and eight assists, center Kelly Olynyk chipped in 19 points and seven rebounds on 7 of 11 shooting, including three conversions from beyond the three-point line, and shooting guard Evan Turner added 16 points and six rebounds to aid in Boston's efforts, piloting a Celtics attack which controlled the tempo of the contest from the outset.
For Washington, shooting guard Bradley Beal shot 9 of 13 from the field en route to 24 points to accompany his five rebounds while point guard John Wall dropped 13 points in addition to his eight assists.
After rallying back from an early 10-5 deficit, the Celtics never looked back. Following a layup by Washington center Marcin Gortat which knotted the game at 16 apiece with 4:50 remaining in the first quarter, Boston simply ravaged the Wizards.
Sullinger knocked down a deep three-pointer, and small forward Jae Crowder (12 points, 10 rebounds), Thomas and Turner each converted on two-point baskets successively to give Boston a 25-18 lead. The Celtics momentum would not cease, with the team riding a 24-9 run to garner a 40-25 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Boston opted to not take their foot off of the gas pedal to begin the second quarter, jumping out to a 14-4 run hallmarked by eight Turner points to take a 54-29 lead with 7:28 remaining in the stanza.
The advantage ballooned to as much as 27 points as the Celtics build an insurmountable gap, finishing the half leading 72-49 with a victory in plain sight.
The Celtics out-rebounded the Wizards by a significant margin, grabbing 53 boards to Washington's 45, including 15 offensive boards compared to their counterparts 10. Boston converted on an exceptional 40 percent of their three-point attempts, hitting on 12 of their 30 looks from outside, while the Wizards struggled to knock down the deep looks that they received, hitting just eight of their 25 attempts from beyond the arc.
Boston also forced 24 Washington turnovers compared to the 17 occasions on which they squandered the rock, recording 18 steals in comparison to the Wizards' 10. The Celtics established their intent to halt Washington's breakneck pace of play, recording just 18 fast-break points compared to the Wizards 27.