Terry Rozier on Kyrie Irving: 'He's our leader, our backbone'

Terry Rozier on Kyrie Irving: 'He's our leader, our backbone'

BOSTON — Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier believes that the team’s cross-country flight last week forced players to recognize that time was running short on salvaging an uneven 2018-19 season and that Kyrie Irving’s positive energy has been one of the biggest factors in steering the team back on course.

“It’s easy … when Kyrie is in a great mood, when Kyrie is feeling good, our whole team is feeling good,” Rozier said this week during an episode of The Pick Up presented by Nissan. The first of two episodes with Rozier airs Friday night during Celtics Post Up on NBC Sports Boston.

"And you know when [Irving is] feeling good, when he’s super engaged, he’s smiling, things like that. … When he’s a little upset, angry, whatever it might be — [with the] media, whatever -- everybody tends to get uptight and it doesn’t work out for us and I’m talking players, coaches, everything. He’s our leader, our guy, he’s our backbone.”

The Celtics have won four of their last five games since a long flight out west following a disheartening loss to the Rockets on national television. An engaged Irving hasn’t just been spectacular offensively the past five games, averaging 24.5 points, 9.8 assists, and 6 rebounds per game — highlighted by a 31-point triple-double in Thursday’s come-from-behind victory over the Kings — but he’s been taking charges again and making the sort of hustle plays that has reinvigorated Boston’s defense.


And the tenor around the team changed with that flight to the Bay Area.

“The flight was super long, and after a loss, too, so it was just like -- obviously you had a group of guys, sectioned off with different groups, people talking amongst one another, and basically we just came to the realization that we have to get our stuff together. And you gotta get it together fast. 

"This road trip was the perfect way to start off something special.”

It's become clear that Boston’s success starts with Irving and his engagement level. While everybody on the roster will play a part in what this team can ultimately accomplish, it all starts with Irving

Rozier was asked if he’s surprised that outsiders weren’t aware of how important Irving’s demeanor is to this young team.

“Well, [outsiders] don’t understand a lot of things, to be honest with you,” said Rozier. "We in a locker room, we in a locker room. So we know what’s going on, 100 percent. We know everything. We know how people are feeling. Like, people on the outside looking in, they may see Jaylen [Brown] get into it with [Marcus] Smart, or [Marcus Morris], or Kyrie, and they might think that JB is the problem just because of what they see. We see everything, we know everything that’s going on. 

"And whether it’s on the plane, whether it’s in the locker room, we see it all, because we’re a family and we are with each other 24/7. Same time, we know how to fix them problems.”

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Celtics will return to limited practice routine starting June 1

Celtics will return to limited practice routine starting June 1

The Boston Celtics will move one step closer towards preparing for the remainder of this season, with voluntary individual player workouts beginning at the team’s practice facility on June 1. 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Friday that professional teams in the state could resume practicing soon. 

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“I know we still aren’t to the point where we’ll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet,” Baker said in a press conference at the State House. “The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. And I think we all hope that at some point, opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner.”

Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations, echoed similar sentiments on Friday. 

“We’re happy that our players will now have the option to work out individually in a safe environment at the Auerbach Center,” Ainge said. “And we hope it signals a step back towards playing basketball again.”

The Celtics added that the workouts will adhere to strict protocols that include but are not limited to the following:

  • Workouts are voluntary & will be conducted in strict accordance with city, state, CDC, and NBA requirements and guidelines.
  • Symptom and temperature checks will be done by team medical staff before anyone enters the facility.
  • Workouts will be limited to individual (1-on-0) shooting, strength and conditioning work, and medical evaluation and therapy as needed.
  • Only essential areas will be accessed. There will be no access to locker rooms, showers, hydrotherapy, medical exam rooms, cafeteria, and offices.
  • Only four players will be able to work out at a time, each working with only one staff member at a time. There will be no more than one player per half court at a time.
  • All staff members will wear masks in the building, and any staff member working with a player must wear gloves. Players will wear masks except while engaging in physical activity. Players and staff will adhere to CDC and NBA compliant social distancing standards at all times.
  • Social distancing will be required in the building except in limited specific instances  (e.g. physical therapy), when PPE will be used.
  • A thorough cleaning and disinfection of all spaces and equipment, including basketballs, will take place before and after each player uses the building.
  • Only staff members essential to these workouts will be present at the Auerbach Center. There will be no access for general staff, public, or media. 

While no definitive date has been set for the NBA to resume play, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has reportedly told owners that the league is targeting July 31 as a return-to-play date. 

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NBA rumors: July 31 is a target date for 2019-20 season return

NBA rumors: July 31 is a target date for 2019-20 season return

Could we see the return of NBA basketball at the end of July?

The Athletic's Shams Charania has reported the league told its Board of Governors on Friday that July 31 is a potential target date for the resumption of the 2019-20 season.

Charania also reported the league discussed four return to play scenarios ranging from going directly to the playoffs with 16 teams to bringing back all 30 teams and having them play 72 regular season games (most teams already have played around 65) before the postseason. The latter scenario doesn't seem likely, though.

If the season does resume, the remaining games (including the playoffs) could be played at one location to minimize travel and maximize the safety and health of players, team employees and everyone else involved. One such location reportedly being considered is Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.

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It's important to remember nothing has been announced by the league, and plenty of details must be sorted out before games can start up again. This news of a potential target date for a season return is encouraging, though.