Celtics

Terry Rozier openly discusses challenges of playing with Kyrie Irving

Terry Rozier openly discusses challenges of playing with Kyrie Irving

Want direct insight into the Boston Celtics' roller coaster of a season?

Just talk to Terry Rozier.

The Celtics guard has been candid all season about the frustrating reality of returning to a backup role behind Kyrie Irving, and how re-integrating Irving and Gordon Hayward into the lineup has led to strife in Boston's locker room.

In an interview Tuesday on ESPN's "Get Up!", Rozier openly discussed what made Irving challenging to play with at times.

"He's a great guy. Great leader. You just have to adjust to his style," Rozier told host Mike Greenberg. "Whatever Kyrie wants done, he's gonna show it. That's what he wants done. And you have to adjust to his style of play and how he goes about every game every day."

Rozier said he believed his teammates got used to Irving's leadership style by the end of the season. But in Rozier's eyes, there still was an on-court disconnect between how the Celtics practiced with Irving and how they played.

"We would come in the game and it would be a different game plan than what we kind of expected and kind of went through in practice, so it was different," Rozier admitted.

"We had the first five and then we had the second five (in practice). And when we go out there, I feel like a lot of guys would be mixed up. It wouldn't be the first five and the second five.

"So, what we'd be talking about in practice is not what we went through in the game. It was like, all right, we're going to keep Kyrie out there and put the other guys out there with him, and we're going to figure it out."

That would seem to be either an indictment of head coach Brad Stevens, who had to manage egos and make some difficult lineup decisions on a crowded roster, or Irving, who perhaps undermined parts of Stevens' game plan when he took the floor. In any case, the C's never found the right formula, losing four straight to the Milwaukee Bucks to bow out of the second round of the NBA playoffs in five games.

Irving is expected to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason, while Rozier will become a restricted free agent. Based on the latter's comments, it's hard to see the two playing on the same team in 2019-20.

Here's video of Rozier's full interview with Greenberg:

 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Bigger competition on the horizon for Daniel Theis, Celtics defenders

Bigger competition on the horizon for Daniel Theis, Celtics defenders

BOSTON — The concerns about the Boston Celtics and their bigs on the defensive end have been well documented, discussed and dissected all season. 

But in what has been a never-ending storm of questions, the answer to emerge for some — but not all — of the team’s big man issues, can be summed up in two words: Daniel Theis. 

His play for the most part won’t be included in your sizzle reel or end-of-the-season plays to remember. 

But there is no question that a big part of why Boston (17-5) has been among the best teams in the NBA most of this season has been the contributions made by the third-year center, who has emerged as the leader of what has been a pack of potential bigs contending to play big minutes this season. 

And the challenge awaiting Theis and the Celtics’ other bigs won’t get much bigger than this week as they face Indiana and Philadelphia on back-to-back nights, with each team’s success fueled in part by the play of not one, but two talented bigs. 

For the Pacers, we’re talking about Domantas Sabonis, who is playing at an All-Star level this season, along with Myles Turner, who has also been solid at both ends of the floor for Indiana. 

The Sixers are led by Joel Embiid, but the Celtics know better than most not to sleep on the play of Al Horford, who spent the previous three seasons in Boston. 

Boston will continue to employ a bigs-by-committee approach, one that will more likely than not begin with Theis.

“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team,” Theis recently told NBC Sports Boston. “Rebound, defend, block a shot, whatever they need me to do, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

More than anything else, the Celtics have leaned on him to be a presence in the middle when it comes to contesting shots. 

And so far he has been up to the challenge. 

Statisitics from NBA.com show that those who shoot against Theis are only connecting on 42.3 percent of their shots. 

To give that the proper context, consider this:

There are only three centers in the NBA whose defense has yielded a lower shooting percentage, and two of those centers are Anthony Davis (38.2 percent) and Rudy Gobert (39.4) with the third in the middle of the top three being Miami’s Bam Adebayo (38.7). 

“He (Theis) doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does for this team,” Marcus Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “But we know, the players, the coaching staff, we know how important he is to what we want to do every night.”

Theis is quick to acknowledge any success or praise he deserves is more about what the team is doing and not just his work defensively. 

“We have good defenders, but we can’t be a really good team defensively unless we lean on each other,” Theis said. “I play well defensively when the team plays well, and when the team plays well, I usually play well; not always, but most of the time.”

Theis’ play defensively is no surprise to the Boston Celtics. 

That was among the many reasons why they signed him two years ago. 

While in Germany, Theis not only won championships, but also stood out as one of the best defenders in Europe. 

A four-time German League All-Star (2014-2017) and three-time German League champion (2015-2017), Theis was also named the German League’s best defender in 2017.

Celtics guard Brad Wanamaker won a German League title in 2016 with Theis when the two played for Bros Bamberg. 

“Nothing surprises me about Theis,” Wanamaker told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s a good player. He can rebound, defend, shoot the ball better than most people know. Back then when we played in Germany, he did a lot of the little things, the dirty work, for us to win and he’s doing a lot of that same stuff now.”

While he may be contributing in a multitude of areas, defense has been his focus. 

It’ll need to be that way with two of the more rugged teams up next. 

“It’s something I always wanted to do, wanted to be good at,” Theis said when asked about playing defense. “When I play, I want to win. And I know to win, you have to play good defense, have a good team defensively.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics had a terrific celebration planned for Grant Williams' first 3-pointer

Celtics had a terrific celebration planned for Grant Williams' first 3-pointer

Even the best-laid plans go awry when you're too excited about your teammate making his first career 3-pointer.

Celtics rookie Grant Williams finally hit a deep ball Monday night in the third quarter of Boston's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, ending an 0-for-25 spell to begin his NBA career and causing his teammates to go wild on the bench.

It was a hilarious celebration for a cool moment -- but not the celebration the Celtics had planned.

Backup point guard Brad Wanamaker told the Boston Sports Journal's Brian Robb what should have happened after Williams' first 3-pointer.

If you watch the video, Wanamaker actually stuck to the plan and "passed out" on the sideline, but the rest of his teammates were too excited (shocked, perhaps?) to remember to follow suit.

We appreciate the effort, Brad.

According to Williams, his teammates' celebration also included some colorful language.

"A lot of it was graphic," Williams told reporters when asked what the Celtics were yelling at him after his 3-pointer. "Especially Carsen (Edwards), you know. But outside of that, it was a good moment, just because they were celebrating me."

It helped that the C's were cruising to a 110-88 win over the Cavs, giving them full latitude to celebrate Williams first deep ball however they wanted.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.