At practice a week or so ago before the playoffs, Terry Rozier was clowning around before film chucking up 30-footers. As he hit his second in a row he joked: “You know that’s cash too. Scary Terry back”. Other than his buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter in Game 1, Scary Terry hasn’t really given us any theatrics to go nuts about.
Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t a bad thing. In the first two games of this series Rozier has done exactly what this team needs of him in the absence of Marcus Smart (Torn Oblique) who today said that he is “nowhere near coming back”.
While series averages of 4.5/5.5/4.0 on 27.3/20.0/50.0 shooting splits don’t scream “Difference Maker”, it’s about how he’s playing and what he’s doing with his minutes that matters. Most (if not all) of the flak that Terry’s caught this season has been due to his poor shot selection and overly erratic style of play. It seems at times that he’s been playing for numbers and a new contract as it’s been a rough go at it for the upcoming Restricted Free Agent. This series however has shown the world yet again that Terry doesn’t need to do all of that to get noticed, he just has to be himself. Judging from this little clip from Game 2, he’s having fun with it too.
Scoring wise he’s struggled in this series as it’s been tough for him to get in the lane and he’s been constantly checked heavily out on the perimeter. Terry’s had to deal with Myles Turner who has given the green issues as he’s clogged the paint and protected the rim at a high level. Then out on the perimeter, guys like Darren Collison, and even rookie guard Aaron Holiday have stepped up and given the Celtic guards all they can handle. During a season where he’d frequently desperately try to shoot himself out of his funk at all costs, his discipline has been impressive. He’s only taken 11 shots in the series and it’s a sign of maturity that he’s been able to stay aggressive, but not get too out of hand. It’s been tough on Terry offensively, but he hasn’t let it get to him, and is making a difference in other facets of the game.
In 19.5 minutes per game, Terry ranks 3rd on the team in playoff assists per game (4.0) and ranks 5th in playoff rebounds per game (5.5). With Smart out, Brad has talked in length about how he wants Kyrie/Terry to be on the floor more together in order to get Kyrie off of the ball.
So far, so good, as Terry has shown an ability to get Irving the ball and it was on display in Game 2. On a few of Irving’s threes, Rozier drove hard to the bucket, only to kick it out to an open Irving who was cooking with gas. It’s exactly what Brad preached he wanted and Terry’s done a nice job of executing. Brad Stevens showed immense faith in Rozier as he played him for 8 minutes in the 4th on Wednesday night. In those 8 4th quarter minutes he had 2 points, 3 assists, and a rebound while posting an offensive rating of 128.6, and a defensive rating of 25. For all of you doing some math, that equates to a net rating of 103.6. That is a jaw-dropping number and it shows how Rozier accumulated a +/- of +19 in Game 2. Brad echoed this in his postgame press conference as he lauded Rozier’s efforts on both ends.
The experiment with Terry has been a success thus far but he still has to keep it up in the meantime. It’s been a nice development but you don’t hang banners coming to play for 2 playoff games, you hang them coming to play for 16. Look to see more Rozier/Kyrie lineups (especially down the stretch) in tonight’s Game 3 in Indiana.