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.

Ainge: Morris 'going to be playing periodically'

Ainge: Morris 'going to be playing periodically'

BOSTON – The Celtics are in the process of putting together a day-to-day plan for Marcus Morris who has missed four of Boston’s past five games due to left knee soreness.

“We’re still working on that, on a timetable,” Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show. “Marcus is going to be playing periodically. I don’t think he’s going to be shut down for a long period of time. I do anticipate him playing some through this process. How much that is, I’m not quite sure yet.”

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Morris’ has missed 14 games, which is almost as many as he has played in (16) this season.

More testing will be done to get a better feel for the extent of Morris’ injury, which kept him out for the first eight games of the season.

If it’s determined that Morris will be out for an extended period of time, the Celtics have a few options it can pursue.

Among the most likely will be the $8.4 million disabled player exception they received following Gordon Hayward’s dislocated left ankle injury on Oct. 17.

Ainge said there’s always motivation to use the exception but currently “there’s nothing that really excites us.

He added, “the reason we haven’t used it is, we need to be careful with it because we don’t know what injuries may happen over this next stretch. That could be important for us, heading into the late season and into the playoffs and if our roster changes if somebody’s not healthy at a particular position.”

And Ainge made it clear that if they were to use it, they wouldn’t use it on a player to just fill a roster spot and provide depth.

“It’s justified we use it anytime if we feel we have a good use of it,” Ainge said. “If we find something we’re excited about, a player that can really help us as opposed to somebody who can help us get through a rough patch that’s not gonna play for us come playoff time. I’m not really interested in using it for that right now.”
 

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The point is Kyrie can dish it out, too

The point is Kyrie can dish it out, too

BOSTON – Since coming to Boston, the Celtics have leaned on Kyrie Irving to deliver offensively. And more nights than not, the four-time All-Star does just that with his ability to generate points.

But the 25-year-old has made a point of making sure his teammates score as well, as was the case in the 124-118 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.

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In addition to his team-high 33 points against the Nuggets, Irving also managed to dish out seven assists, which served as yet another reminder that while he is among the best in the game at scoring, he also understands the value in being a facilitator and its importance in helping Boston remain among the best teams in the NBA.  

“We need all of it,” Irving said. “It’s the same trust I have in them, they have to have in me to be able to deliver those passes. When we’re on that same mindset, it works out pretty well for us. And even if the shots weren’t falling how we wanted them to, when you give the right energy to the game, it’ll come right back. It’ll all even out so I felt it did that for us tonight.”

Here are five other takeaways from the shootout victory over Denver:  

LOSS? WHAT LOSS?
When it comes to regrouping after a loss, no one does it quite like the Celtics. Since losing the first two games of the season, Boston has four additional losses. The outcome after each defeat has been a Celtics victory. And the win over Denver on Wednesday was the first bounce-back win in which Boston didn’t win by double figures. “It’s so many games in this league, we learn from our mistakes,” said Boston’s Jayson Tatum. “We re-focus and just … forgot about last game whether we play good or play bad.”

STEVENS’ SENSE OF HUMOR
Following the win, Brad Stevens was asked about Jaylen Brown who reverted back to wearing contacts after playing the last couple games with goggles following some right eye irritation due to him sleeping with his contacts. Stevens said the team has had a few laughs in “retro-spec” about Brown’s eye issues. “That’s pretty good. Been thinking about that (retro-spec joke) all week.”

PATH TO VICTORY VARIES
We have seen Boston’s success often come down to its defense which is considered the best in the NBA in terms of defensive efficiency. And they have had stretches in which their offense got them over the hump. But the Nuggets game was the first we’ve seen this season in which their offense had to carry them pretty much the entire night, evident by Boston scoring a season-high 124 points while shooting a shade under 60 percent, which was also a season high.

NO HORFORD HURTS DEFENSE
You figured no Al Horford would not be a good thing for the Celtics defense. His absence on the night the Celtics played one of the league’s more prolific shooting teams resulted in something like what we saw. Boston struggled to defend the Nuggets most of the night, giving up the most points (118) this season in a victory. And while Denver’s play had a lot to do with that, Horford’s absence was just as important.

TOUGH SCHEDULE
The Celtics were the first team to play 30 games this season, which says a lot about how challenging their schedule has been from a wear-and-tear standpoint. It won’t get any easier anytime soon. The Celtics hit the unofficial halfway point of the season – 41 games played – on Jan. 3.