Celtics

With few returning players on Celtics, don't forget about Terry Rozier

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With few returning players on Celtics, don't forget about Terry Rozier

BOSTON – Jaylen Brown has won over many fans this offseason with the way he has improved his overall play. Marcus Smart’s loss of 20 pounds has gained him a few more fans -- and a 3-point shoot that’s pretty good, apparently. Al Horford remains a steady, guiding force for a team that will lean heavily on his experience and leadership.
 
Wait, hold up!

Weren’t there four players back from last year’s team?
 
Ah, yes.
 
Terry Rozier returns as well, but you wouldn’t know it by the lack of buzz surrounding the third-year guard.
 
Not a problem, Rozier says.
 
“I know what you’re saying but I’m not really caught up into it,” Rozier told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m just trying to control what I can control, man. Everybody has their favorites; everybody likes what they like. But as far as I’m worried about, it’s this team and how far we can go and how can we click. I know I will make a name for myself, sooner or later. Not just the fans here but for everybody.”
 
And the chances of that happening are as great as they’ve ever been since the Celtics drafted him with the 16th overall pick in 2015.
 
When he arrived there was a clear logjam in the backcourt that, frankly, showed little signs of him breaking through regardless of how well he played.
 
But when Boston traded Avery Bradley to Detroit and Isaiah Thomas as part of a deal with Cleveland for Kyrie Irving, it meant a chance to have a significant role was his for the taking this season.
 
“This year is my first year that I feel I got a role and feeling comfortable, just out there,” Rozier said. “It felt so natural. I don’t have to think so much like I usually do. Once that settles in, it’s over.”
 
In Boston’s 94-82 preseason win over Charlotte on Monday, Rozier came off the bench as Irving’s backup at the point.
 
He would finish with seven points, three steals and two rebounds.
 
Even before Boston traded away its starting backcourt this summer, Rozier was hoping for an opportunity to have a more expanded role this season.
 
A large chunk of his offseason was spent in gyms across the country, going through two and sometimes three workout sessions per day. Rozier said he participated in workouts in Cleveland (he’s originally from Youngstown, Ohio), Los Angeles and Miami.
 
Those workouts also included pick-up games against current NBA players such as new teammate Kyrie Irving, Washington Wizards all-star John Wall as well as a couple of ex-Celtics in Jeff Green and Kelly Olynyk.
 
Those were good times this summer, Rozier says.
 
“It was a lot of NBA talent,” said Rozier, "having a lot of fun, talking smack and competing.”
 
And it is that latter point raised by Rozier -- competing -- which is something he hopes to do more of this season.
 
While Thomas and Bradley’s departure opened a window for more playing time, it’s far from a given that he’ll see more action than the 17.1 minutes per game he averaged last season, which more than doubled his playing time (8.1 minutes per game) from his rookie season.
 
Even if there’s no spike in playing time, Rozier’s understanding of how to impact games going forward is indeed on the rise.
 
“With this great group of guys, it has no choice but to get better,” he said. “A guy like Kyrie, he’s teaching me a lot and things like that. Like I said, I’m controlling what I can control and I’m having fun doing it.”
 
And that should serve as a reminder to folks that Rozier is a pretty good player.  
 
“If they don’t know [yet], they will know,” Rozier said, grinning.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

CLEVELAND – Jayson Tatum has seen plenty of games featuring Cleveland’s LeBron James.

And in the Boston Celtics’ preparation for Tuesday night’s matchup, the 19-year-old rookie had seen plenty of James on film.

But facing him, up close and personal, was something entirely different.

“He’s way bigger than I thought,” Tatum said. “He’s way better than I imagined. That’s the reason why he is who he is.”

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James’ play was among the key factors in Cleveland handing Boston a 102-99 loss on Tuesday night.

But Tatum showed he too has some big-time potential by finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds which included some nifty drives to the basket as well as showing the ability to hold his own on the glass in terms of rebounding the basketball.

The last Celtics rookie to post a double-double on opening night?

That was Larry Bird back in 1980, helping the Celtics to a 114-106 win over the Houston Rockets.

What’s even crazier?

Bird had 14 points and 10 rebounds in that Rockets game, too.

Tatum’s solid performance didn’t seem in the making in the first half when Tatum had missed all five of his shot attempts while tallying just two points.

But as the Celtics mounted their comeback, Tatum’s play was a key to the team’s improved play.

“Just being more relaxed” was how Tatum described his improved play in the second half.

Tatum added, “first half, I think I was nervous and anxious. And then the game slowed down for me. That helped out a lot.”

And the Celtics will need even more from Tatum going forward after Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that will keep him sidelined indefinitely.

There was plenty of room for him to improve upon following Tuesday’s game.

But for the most part, head coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw from the rookie.

“Jayson was pretty good,” Stevens said. “He did a pretty good job for a first game. That’s pretty hard to do, to be thrown into this environment, first game and play that well.”

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