Celtics

Rozier ready to contribute after putting in 'a lot of work' this offseason

Rozier ready to contribute after putting in 'a lot of work' this offseason

BOSTON – While at the University of Louisville, Terry Rozier’s favorite subject was math.

It’s fitting when you consider how his play of late in the preseason has added up to what should be a prominent role off of Boston’s bench.

He certainly delivered a strong performance in Boston’s 113-96 preseason win over Philadelphia on Monday.

Rozier had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds with six assists, a steal and a blocked shot.

But more important, Rozier had a command of the game at both ends of the floor that we’ve seen flashes of in the past, but rarely has the third-year guard been able to sustain that level of control consistently.

It’s all part of the work Rozier put in this summer in preparation for what he anticipates will be a breakout season.

Rozier appeared in just 39 games as a rookie during the 2015-2016 season, averaging just 1.8 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.9 assists while shooting 27.4 percent from the field.

Last season he nearly doubled his stats in most categories, averaging 5.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 36.7 percent from the field while appearing in 74 games.

Rozier spent this summer working out in Cleveland, Los Angeles and Miami with pick-up games including former Celtics like Jeff Green and Kelly Olynyk in addition to All-Star talent such as Washington’s John Wall.

And those matchups combined with a stronger, more fit physique, has Rozier feeling ready to make his mark this season.

“I feel pretty confident,” he said. “I put in a lot of work this summer. I’m not second-guessing myself. I’m going out there and having fun.”

In a separate interview with NBC Sports Boston, Rozier reiterated how different things are for him heading into this season.

“Definitely. I just feel different,” Rozier told NBC Sports Boston. “This year is my first year that I feel I got a role and feeling comfortable, just out there. It felt so natural. I don’t have to think so much like I usually do. Once that settles in, it’s over.”

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How to watch/stream Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics, Game 5

How to watch/stream Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics, Game 5

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch Game 5 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, as the Celtics host the Bucks at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's: Game 5 will come down to 'who wants it more'

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Celtics: Game 5 will come down to 'who wants it more'

Celtics: Game 5 will come down to 'who wants it more'

BOSTON -- We are at that point in this Boston-Milwaukee playoff series where X’s and O’s have little value. 

There’s very little either team can do at this point that would come as a complete shock to the other, and make sense at the same time. 

“It’s nothing new anymore,” said Jayson Tatum. “We’ve played them four games in a row. We know what we are going to do, they know what we are going to do.”

MORE ON THE SERIES

So what’s left?

“It’s just effort,” Tatum said. “Who wants it more.”

So far in this series, desire to win has been directly tied with the game’s location. 

Boston won an overtime nail-biter in Game 1 at the TD Garden and followed that up with another win in Game 2. The Bucks returned home and delivered a decisive Game 3 beatdown, then survived a late Celtics surge in Game 4 to hold on for a two-point win that included some late-game controversy

“The biggest thing that you learn as you go further into this is transition matters so much more; and rebounding matters so much more,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “Making the right reads on offense matters so much more and those are the things that are somewhat within your control.”

And control is exactly what’s at stake tonight for both teams, knowing the loser will be in the first true must-win scenario when these two square off again in Milwaukee for Game 6. 

The significance of tonight is not lost on any of the Celtics players.

“Got to protect home court,” said Jaylen Brown. “Got to protect our house. They felt comfortable the last two games until those last few quarters, and that’s how we want to continue to play.”

Boston fell behind by 20 points (65-45) in the third quarter of Game 4, then steadily chipped away at the Bucks lead and eventually went ahead 100-99 with less than a minute to play on a jumper by Tatum. 

But Milwaukee eventually came away with the victory following a tip-in by Giannis Antetokounmpo with 5.1 seconds to play. 

Boston had one last chance to tie the game and force overtime, but Marcus Morris’ fadeaway jumper was off the mark as the final horn sounded. 

The Celtics had practice on Monday and watched some video. But at this point, there’s very little they will do or see that will dramatically change their outlook and approach to tonight’s game other than the prospect of Marcus Smart (right thumb) suiting up tonight. That seemed a long shot until late Monday afternoon when the Celtics listed him as “questionable” for the game, the first time since his right thumb was surgically repaired last month that he hasn't been ruled out.

MORE ON MARCUS SMART

Regardless of who steps on the floor, the Celtics know at this point there are no secrets among these two teams.

“It becomes a game of inches now,” Brown said. “We played this team what, three or four times in the regular season, now it’s game five of the playoffs. We both know. Through the film, like we both know what each team wants to do and get out of it. Now it’s just who is going to come out on top.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE