Terry Rozier didn't see it coming but when Celtics coach Brad Stevens decided to shake things up in the third quarter against the Rockets, he turned to his rookie for help.
After Jae Crowder suffered a high ankle sprain, Stevens decided to switch to a smaller lineup and called on Rozier -- a move that Rozier said he wasn't expecting.
"Well, I mean I didn't know my number was going to get called," Rozier said. "When I got off the bench, I was just like, 'I'm just going to play hard no matter.' Coach knows I'm going to rebound and I said that's one of the things I wanted to do. Go help our bigs on the rebounds and just push the ball, just try to create for my teammates. Try to do the best that I can at doing that."The Celtics' first round draft pick made the most of his 10 minutes -- he grabbed 7 rebounds to go with his 3 points and 3 assists. Stevens talked about what led to the decision to play Rozier after Friday night's loss to the Rockets.
"I felt like when we put Terry in -- the key question whenever you're that small is 'Can you hold your ground?' number one; number two is, 'Can you rebounds?' And I thought Terry rebounded as well as anybody on our team," Stevens said. "So, that was really encouraging and that's what he does well so we decided to play that kind of small. And it was probably good for a little bit and probably ran its course."After the Rockets reinserted their starting core, it was tough for the Celtics to stick with their small-ball lineup against the likes of Dwight Howard and James Harden. Still, Stevens acknowledges Rozier's work ethic and is seeing progress out of his rookie.
"We lost Jae so we were going to have to give those guys a blow and I thought that Terry's really improved and continued to work and his mindset's great," Stevens said after the Friday night's game. "And I think he's feeling good. He had a good practice yesterday, he's had great workouts every day. He's walked through with our first two groups the last few times and I feel good about his progress and trust that he's ready to go."In a crowded back court that is led by Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Evan Turner and Marcus Smart, there isn't minutes for Rozier in Stevens' rotation. But if you ask him, he'll tell you that he's not necessarily discouraged about not seeing the floor because of how much he's learning.
"Yeah, I'd rather have it this way," Rozier said. "I'm not just saying that. I'm learning a lot. I'm a guy that, I like to learn by seeing things. I can watch IT, watch Avery. I can watch them all do what they do, night in and night out. And when my time comes, I can just try to do what I can do. Like I said, I wouldn't want it no other way. These guys are great. It's a great group of guys. They deserve it."
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