Celtics

Terry Rozier bluntly addresses his sacrifices for Celtics, wants 'fresh start'

Terry Rozier bluntly addresses his sacrifices for Celtics, wants 'fresh start'

Terry Rozier will be the first to tell you this season wasn't easy for him.

The young guard has been candid about his diminished role on the 2018-19 Boston Celtics, whose season ended Wednesday night when the Milwaukee Bucks spanked them in Game 5.

So, what does that mean for his future with unrestricted free agency looming this offseason? Again, Rozier didn't mince words after Game 5.

"I don't give a f--- what nobody say, I sacrificed the most out of anybody," Rozier told Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill. "I'm a top point guard in this league. I feel like it's a fresh start, whether I'm here or whether I'm gone.”

With Kyrie Irving back in the lineup after missing the 2018 postseason, Rozier saw his minutes dip from 25.9 per game in 2017-18 to 22.7 this season. More importantly, his playoff minutes got cut in half this year, dropping from 36.6 per game last spring to just 18 per game in 2019 as he was relegated to a bench role.

That Rozier was "rewarded" for his strong 2018 playoffs with a smaller slice of the Celtics' pie clearly took a toll on the 25-year-old, although he insists he was willing to swallow his pride during the regular season.

“I feel like I sacrificed the most, but I’d do it any day for this team,” Rozier added. “A lot of things weren't fair to me, but it's not about me. That's why I don't bitch and complain."

Rozier also told reporters after Game 5 he was sympathetic to head coach Brad Stevens, who had to juggle egos on a deep, talented roster. He used slightly more colorful language to paint the picture for Goodwill.

“Everybody was running around with their heads cut off, like chickens,” Rozier said. “Coach was in a tough position, one of the toughest positions, dealing with all these guys with attitudes, all that sh--. Guys that's All-Stars, guys getting paid a lot of money, guys trying to get paid. It's tough."

Whatever issues Rozier had in Boston this year will come to a head this offseason. If Irving leaves in free agency and the Celtics promise him a starting point guard role, perhaps he decides to stay. But if another club offers a chance for a fresh start, it sounds like he's ready to take it.

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Kemba Walker won't play in Celtics' NBA seeding game vs. Nets

Kemba Walker won't play in Celtics' NBA seeding game vs. Nets

The Boston Celtics will be without their starting point guard in Wednesday night's NBA seeding game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after Tuesday's 112-106 loss to the Miami Heat that Kemba Walker won't play versus the Nets. Stevens did note, however, that Walker's minutes will "incrementally increase again Friday" versus the Toronto Raptors.

The Celtics have taken a cautious approach with Walker, who's been dealing with a sore left knee. Therefore, it's not surprising at all that the C's are resting him in the second game of a back-to-back. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nets, which begins Wednesday at 8 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Walker has been on a minutes restriction in Boston's first three games inside the Orlando bubble. The veteran guard's 27 minutes against the Heat were the most he's played in the seeding games so far. Walker played 22 minutes against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday and 19 minutes versus the Milwaukee Bucks last Friday.

Despite the limited playing time, Walker has performed pretty well for the Celtics. He's averaged 15 points in the three games, while shooting 14-for-24 from the field, including an impressive 9-for-15 mark from 3-point range.

Celtics vs. Heat Overreactions: C's still a strong bet to earn No. 3 seed despite loss

Celtics vs. Heat Overreactions: C's still a strong bet to earn No. 3 seed despite loss

The Boston Celtics all of a sudden are in a real fight for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The C's lost to the Miami Heat 112-106 on Tuesday night. Even without its best player in Jimmy Butler, Miami was able to stave off a late Celtics comeback attempt and move within 1.5 games of Boston in third place. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nets, which begins Wednesday at 8 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Let's take a look at three instant overreactions from Celtics vs. Heat and assess their merit.

1. The Celtics will lose the No. 3 seed
Verdict: Overreaction

The Celtics' advantage over the Heat for third place in the Eastern Conference is just 1.5 games with five seeding matchups remaining. It's a slim lead, but the C's are still a good bet to secure the No. 3 seed, and one of the biggest reasons why is their schedule.

Here's a look at Boston's remaining seeding game slate:

Aug. 5 vs. Brooklyn Nets
Aug. 7 vs. Toronto Raptors
Aug. 9 vs. Orlando Magic
Aug. 11 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Aug. 13 vs. Washington Wizards

Brooklyn is one of the worst teams in the bubble. Yes, the Nets did earn an impressive win over the Bucks on Tuesday, but Milwaukee's best players didn't play much in the second half. The Raptors game is without a doubt the toughest matchup for the C's, but they have beaten Toronto twice already this season. The Magic are another one of the worst teams taking part in the restart, and they've allowed an average of 118 points in three games. The Grizzlies are a young, inexperienced team that just lost star forward Jaren Jackson (torn meniscus) for the rest of the season. The Wizards are actually the worst team in the bubble, and the C's should have little trouble with Washington if the game ends up being important at that stage of the playoff race.

There's no reason why the C's shouldn't finish 4-1 in their remaining seeding games and clinch the No. 3 seed. Boston also has plenty of motivation to finish third because if the C's slip to the No. 4 seed, they would have to play the first-place Bucks in the second round instead of the conference finals. Avoiding the Bucks for as long as possible come playoff time is the ideal scenario.

2. Celtics' defense vs. centers is a problem
Verdict: Not an overreaction

Defending opposing centers who can score has been a problem for Boston all season due to its lack of frontcourt size and depth, and the situation hasn't improved inside the Orlando bubble. 

Heat center Bam Adebayo poured in 21 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, including this offensive board late in the second quarter where he scored to increase Miami's lead to 58-47.

Adebayo isn't the only center who's played at a very high level against the Celtics since they traveled down to the bubble. Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams posted 17 points and seven rebounds in limited action during a scrimmage last week, and on Sunday, Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic dropped 30 points with nine rebounds against the C's.

The Celtics need to do a much better job defensively against these offensively gifted centers if they're going to make a deep run in the playoffs. The most likely first-round matchup for the Celtics right now is against the Philadelphia 76ers and their All-NBA center Joel Embiid. Embiid has scored 68 points with 30 rebounds in Philly's first two seeding games.

3. Jaylen Brown has been Celtics' best player in the bubble
Verdict: Not an overreaction

Brown poured in 18 points with a team-high 10 rebounds against the Heat, giving him seven double-doubles on the season.

The 23-year-old shooting guard is the only Celtics player who's scored 18-plus points in all three seeding games. Here's a quick look at Brown's stat lines from the bubble so far:

vs. Bucks: 22 points, four rebounds
vs. Blazers: 30 points, 6-for-8 on 3PT, six rebounds, two steals
vs. Heat: 18 points, 10 rebounds, two steals

Brown also brought tremendous energy throughout Tuesday's matchup, especially in the third quarter when the C's trimmed the Heat lead to 69-68. Whether it was crashing the glass, attacking the rim or giving max effort defensively, Brown's energy was contagious and helped spark a Celtics run. Included in that run was this powerful dunk from Brown:

Brown is in the midst of his best season as a Celtic, and he's picked up right where he left off when the season was paused in March. It's a very encouraging sign for the Celtics as the playoffs near.