Before making his first career playoff start against the Bucks on Sunday, Terry Rozier spent some time with All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.
The two hung out at Irving’s home, where they relaxed, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. Rozier left with Irving’s sneakers, since the veteran won’t need them while he recovers from knee surgery.
It was a fitting metaphor, because those are some big shoes to fill. But Rozier is determined to prove he’s up to the task.
In Sunday’s 113-107 victory over the Bucks in Game 1 of their first-round series, Rozier not only nailed the go-ahead 3-pointer with half a second left in regulation, he scored 23 points, dished out four assists, and committed zero turnovers in 46 minutes. He played with Irving’s advice ringing in his ears.
“His message was, ‘Go out there and take what’s yours, go out there and dominate, go kill, and don’t worry about what nobody is saying,'” Rozier told reporters.
Rozier acknowledges Irving’s impact on his offensive skills, while also demonstrating how to be a great leader. Irving’s impact on Rozier’s game is indisputable.
From improving the accuracy of his pull-up 3-pointers and crossover fade-aways, to the way Rozier has sharpened his ability to slash through defenders and finish strong, Rozier’s offensive approach reeks of Irving. And when it came down to talking basketball, Irving’s advice to Rozier before Game 1 was fairly simple.
“He’s just a great guy and whether it’s basketball talk, whether it’s joking around — he’s great at engaging with guys. He’s a great leader,” Rozier explained. “I know for a fact, even if I didn’t reach out to him yet. I’ve got him in my ear. I’ve got him in my corner.”
Rozier undoubtedly knocked in some Irving-ish clutch shots down the stretch in Game 1. After breaking 96-96 tie with a step back trey with 0.5 left on the game clock, Rozier lit up the Bucks by scoring eight of the Celtics’ 14 points in overtime. His 23 points included a team-high four 3-pointers.
Since Irving’s season-ending injury, Rozier has been one of the most vocal players in the Celtics locker room. He has embraced his newfound role as a focal point of Brad Stevens’ offense. Rozier averaged 18.2 points in March and he’s already off to one heck of a start in the postseason.
“It’s been amazing. This is my third time in the league, third time in the playoffs and it just keeps getting better,” Rozier said. “It’s unfortunate what happened to our teammates throughout the year, but we’ve still got each other and we’ve still got to fight, still got to win. I just love playing with these guys and they just give me all the confidence in the world, but this year is probably the best one. Plus, I’m starting — so it’s like a dream.”
Full article @ Terry Rozier swipes Kyrie Irving’s shoes, and then fills them with great Game 1 for Celtics
Source: GreenStreet Blog