Zeller has been ‘big’ success for streaking Celtics
The acquisition of Isaiah Thomas and the scoring prowess of Evan Turner have greatly helped the Celtics click, but there is one unsung hero who is truly coming into his own: Tyler Zeller.
With Jared Sullinger out for the rest of the year, Zeller has been stepping up his game in the post, a much-needed area of improvement for the Celtics this season. Since the All-Star Break, Zeller has averaged 11 points and 6.2 rebounds a game, while shooting 51% from the field.
These are not outstanding numbers, but Zeller has been able to provide something the Celtics have been lacking: consistent scoring and post play.
The C’s have been criticized for being an undersized team with bigs (mainly Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk) settling for outside shots and lacking an inside force. Zeller has been the man to accept this role and is finally starting to come into his own and establishing a comfort zone for himself and this team.
For example, against the Utah Jazz earlier this month, with the game tied late in regulation, Zeller was able to catch an inbound pass in midair and spin underneath the basket, all in one motion, and lay it in for a huge Celtics win.
No one would have expected a moment like that from the lowly backup center for the Cavaliers last year, against one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
Although much of the attention goes to the likes of Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Turner, and Avery Bradley, Zeller, and his newly formed role as Celtic, is key to the Celtics success.
As long as the Celtics hope to stay in the playoff race, they must rely on Zeller to keep producing at a consistent rate in the post, while also helping spread the offense by opening up his mid-range game.