Scary Terry. Tito 3 Sticks. T-Ro. Terry the Lobster. Call him what you will, Terry Rozier has answered the bell for this Celtics team when we have needed him the most. Dropping a triple double in his debut game as a starter followed by a career high 31 point game just two days later, Rozier came flying out of the gates and soaked up every ounce of his opportunity as the team’s new floor general.
Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Rozier’s numbers have soared across the board. In the month of January (pre Irving injury) he averaged 9.6 points a game to go along with 2.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 39% from the field and 32% from three. Not bad for a backup point guard, but nowhere near what he has done since. February he leaped up to 15.5 points, 3.5 assists, and 4.3 rebounds, while increasing his shooting percentage to 42% from the field and a staggering 46% from three. The numbers crept up even further from there, pouring in 17 points, 4.2 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game in March in a team leading 33.4 minutes per game. If the most improved player award was handed out between February and May, Terry Rozier would make a strong case.
Entering the playoffs there wasn’t much trust in this Celtic’s squad. Just a few days before tip off of game one against the Milwaukee Bucks, it was announced that Kyrie Irving would miss the entirety of the postseason, adding to a list of injured Celtics that already consisted of Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, and Daniel Theis. Where were they going to find offense? Who would step up in the absence of superstar Kyrie Irving? Who gets the ball in crunch time? Does this team have the talent to make an honest run? Some had this team as underdogs in the Bucks series, and almost no one would be betting on us if by some miracle we got out of the first round and matched up with the red hot 76ers.
Enter Terry Rozier.
The guy is quickly becoming a fan favorite, not just amongst us Celtics fans but he is garnishing national attention as he continues to lead the Celtics to victory after victory this postseason. Going by the popular nickname “Scary Terry”, our Drew Bledsoe jersey wearing star in the making has answered all of the biggest question marks thus far and has gladly taken the pressure of filling enormous shoes and just ran with it.
Further elevating his numbers from the end of the regular season, in the first round of the postseason Rozier put up 17.6 ponts, 6.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game to go along with a 41% field goal percentage while shooting 38% from three. Perhaps most impressive- he has hardly turned the ball over. Rozier had a ridiculous 7 turnovers through 6 of the 7 game series against the Bucks, game 3 being the only outlier with a 5 turnover game. Remarkable coming from a speedy point guard that had major ball control issues early on in his career.
Thus far he currently leads our team in overall points per game as well as assists at 19.1 and 6.9, respectively. At this point a case can be made that this man is our playoff MVP up to this point. Celtics Twitter has lit up in the past few weeks with blog post after blog post surrounding the topic of Terry Rozier, mostly centered around ideas of how to keep him on after the season, while others have even mentioned thoughts of trading Kyrie in favor of the speedy point guard. It is safe to say most of the past few weeks has gone like a dream for the 24 year old.
There’s only one catch.
The question remains- can he step up on the road during these playoffs and get this team a much needed win in a hostile environment? Through three road games against the Bucks, Rozier, like much of the rest of the team, performed poorly to put it mildly. He averaged 11.6 points, 27% from the field, and shot a paltry 24% from three while committing a postseason high 5 turnovers in game 3 as the team was outscored by a total of 37 points during the three game span.
This is a young and very inexperienced Celtics team, now being led by a very young and relatively inexperienced point guard. Mistakes are bound to be made, especially on the road in the playoffs. There is simply not a more hostile playing environment in sports. So it makes sense to see Terry Rozier struggle in these environments as he continues to learn the ins and outs of playoff basketball.
We have yet to see a big sample how he will handle the always rowdy and energetic Philadelphia fan base, but I promise you one thing- they will be much more intimidating than the Bucks crowd in that first round series. Thus far Rozier has answered every question thrown his way, now can he answer just one more? It is only 9 games into his tenure as starting point guard for a playoff team, but it's already time for him to take the next step and lead this team to a road victory.
We will find out more as the Celtics take on the 76ers in game four of the best of seven series. Be sure to bring your Scary Terry t-shirts and your best Bledsoe memes, this is shaping up to be a good one!By Travis Babcock