There aren’t a lot of positives takeaways from the Celtics’ opening week of the regular season.
The loss of Gordon Hayward immediately changed the landscape of the 2017-18 campaign. The Celtics blew two fourth-quarter leads in their back-to-back losses. And then they escaped an 0-3 start Friday thanks to a decent fourth quarter against Philly where offensively things finally clicked. But one of the few bright spots of the week came from their bench.
Without Hayward, Brad Stevens was forced to insert Marcus Smart — the Celtics’ appointed sixth man — into the starting lineup, thus opening an increased role for third-year guard Terry Rozier. Stevens’ backup point guard seized that opportunity Wednesday night — when he scored 15 points, pulled down 7 rebounds and dished out 6 assists against the Bucks.
He then followed that up with 14 points and 7 rebounds against the 76ers. With Smart out (sprained ankles), Rozier clocked in 30 minutes in Friday’s win and 26 Wednesday against Milwaukee. He’ll be seeing more of the same moving forward.
Rozier has accepted his newfound role and even took responsibility for some of the Celtics’ missteps against the Bucks.
“I gotta come off the bench, step up and make sure the guys that come off the bench with me are all on the same page,” Rozier said. “Like I told a couple of guys, it was my fault that we didn’t capitalize on a couple of plays tonight. I gotta do a better job of making sure everyone’s in the right position and that I’m yelling out the plays.”
Since the start of training camp, Rozier has shown he’s a capable secondary scorer, facilitator and defender for the Celtics — something Stevens is desperately searching for out of his second unit. With Smart in the starting five, the bench is all of a sudden a lot younger and inexperienced.
Stevens played six rookies in Friday night’s loss, including Abdel Nader, Semi Ojeleye, Jabari Bird, Guershon Yabusele and Daniel Theis, and until he figures out a rotation he can stick with that’s going to be the norm for the time being. The only consistent offensive weapon Stevens can confidently rely on off his bench is Rozier.
Shane Larkin (10 points) provided valuable minutes, and the same could be said about Bird (12 points) but Rozier’s play will be the backbone for the second unit.
Since the start of preseason, he has shown signs of improvement. His ball handling skill has always been a staple of his game and this year he’s refined his craft — eliminating turnovers and finishing at the rim.
In the past, Rozier never had trouble blowing past his defenders, it was when he would miss contested layups or lose control of the ball that often drove Celtics fans crazy. This new and improved Rozier is in position to lead the second unit, and relieve Irving and Smart on a game-to-game basis.
Full article @ Terry Rozier proving to be a bright spot for Celtics
Source: GreenStreet Blog