Terry Rozier understands he’s Celtics’ new leader

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Terry Rozier understands he’s Celtics’ new leader

Post by bobheckler on Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:56 pm


Terry Rozier understands he’s Celtics’ new leader

Mark Murphy Saturday, April 14, 2018

Credit: Stuart Cahill
NOT LOOKING AHEAD YET: Terry Rozier goes through warmups before last night’s regular-season finale against the Nets at the Garden, as the Celtics waited to see which team they would face in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Terry Rozier has the doubters on an audio loop, and usually they talk about who won’t be on the Celtics roster when they open the playoffs tomorrow at the Garden against Milwaukee.

“There’s been a chip on the shoulder since (Gordon) Hayward went down,” the Celtics point guard said after yesterday’s practice. “You hear a lot of people doubting us from that point. We went on the 16-game winning streak and everybody hopped back on the bandwagon. That’s just how it goes. We understand that, but we have to come out with a chip. We have to be the harder-playing team. Coach always says you don’t want anybody to be more prepared than us. We want to be the most prepared team. We know it’s work. We’re ready for it.

“If you love basketball, you’ll love being in this position,” said Rozier. “It sucks to see your brothers go down — (Marcus) Smart, (Daniel) Theis. Kyrie (Irving), Hayward, but like I said, it’s not over. It’s not going to be an easy road for our opponents. They still have to go through us. We’re ready.”

There’s an unusual parallel between now and Rozier’s first playoff series as a rookie in 2016. His playing time jumped as the result of a season-ending hamstring injury suffered by Avery Bradley in Game 1 of the first-round series against Atlanta.

Injury has expanded Rozier’s opportunity again, this time as the result of Irving’s knee surgery. But this time Rozier is the lead guard, responsible for running the offense against Milwaukee’s great point guard, Eric Bledsoe.

It will be viewed as Rozier’s greatest challenge to date, and he loves the chance, coming as it flies in the face of all those doubters.

“I gotta lead these guys. That’s understandable,” he said. “I have to control the game, and basically just fill in for what the starting point guard’s supposed to do, fill in Kyrie’s shoes as much as I can. Sometimes it might come down to taking tough shots and making tough shots and stuff like that, but do what I can to give this team a boost and put us in a position to win.”

Irving has been one of Rozier’s staunchest supporters since he became a Celtic last summer. Now that he’s an observer, and more specifically an extra coach, the Celtics star is reaching out to young teammates like Rozier.

“I just basically told him, just be looking at your phone. I’m gonna reach out to you,” said Rozier. “He’s hands on, he’s easy to deal with, he’s easy to get pointers from, cause he makes you feel comfortable. He doesn’t tell you nothing too crazy. As long as I know that I can reach out to him, I will.

“He’s been great. He’s been effective even when he’s not playing, still making guys feel comfortable, still being around laughing and joking,” he said. “I’m not afraid to reach out to him. He’s a guy that wants to help and wants to see other guys succeed. That’s what makes him a leader. We all know we got him in our corner.”

But unlike when he was a rookie pushed onto the proving ground against the Hawks in ’16, Rozier is now running the offense. He’s thrived as a starter, and admittedly sees the floor now with a clearer, slowed-down view.

“It’s just basketball to me. When I first got here, you’re just learning the game, and sometimes you think you got it, and sometimes there’s always more to learn of course,” he said. “But right now I’m just trying to be effective as much as I can and help this team win. I’m not worried about how slow it is for me, I know it’s just basketball, go out there and have fun. I gotta lead my team. That’s the cards I was dealt with, and I’m glad.

“I think I gotta push the ball, push the pace even more, try to create easy baskets instead of us trying to score in the halfcourt,” he said. “We push the ball and I feel like we’re tough to guard. We have a lot guys who can push the ball, who can play with fast pace. If we do that, we’ll be a tough team to guard.”

And just maybe, Bledsoe will have his hands full.



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