BOSTON -- The jokes about Terry Rozier “giving” Kyrie Irving back his starting job with the Boston Celtics brings a smile to us all.
Because as well as Rozier has played since Irving went down with a right quadriceps injury, we all know -- Rozier included -- that there’s no way in hell he’s going to replace Irving as a starter.
CELTICS VS. BLAZERS
And, truthfully, it’s impossible to ignore the competition Rozier has shined against, New York and Atlanta are not only among the worst teams in the Eastern Conference but both lack an elite, high impact guard for Rozier to go up against.
That won’t be an issue today when the Celtics host the Portland Trail Blazers, who are led by the talented backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
Lillard, who was recently named to his third All-Star team, is averaging 25.6 points, 6.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. McCollum is having another strong season as well, averaging 21.9 points, 3.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game.
New York’s Jarrett Jack and Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder -- Rozier matched up against each of them as a starter -- are both solid NBA players that Rozier faced. But Lillard/McCollum, they are not.
While the play of Rozier has caught many by surprise, more than anything else he has maximized the opportunity to play more consistent, starter-like minutes.
This season, Rozier has averaged 9.6 points along with 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 23.6 minutes per game.
In the last two games for Rozier, he has played about 10 more minutes per game and has been extremely efficient with his increased playing time. He's averaged 24.0 pointsalong with nine rebounds and six assists while shooting 53.1 percent from the field and 64.3 percent (9-for-14) on 3’s in 34 minutes of court time.
“He’s a really good player, and he’s gotten better,” said coach Brad Stevens. “He’s playing very confidently. And we’re going to need him to play very confidently (today) because this group coming in is pretty special, especially in the back court.”
While certainly enjoying his time in the spotlight, Rozier is eager for an Irving return to action.
“Kyrie is probably one of my biggest supporters outside of my family through this process,” Rozier said. “I know he’s happy for me and when he comes back we are going to pick it up.”