As the regular season winds down and teams are jockeying for playoff position, there’s another battle at the bottom of the standings. Teams are selectively resting key players and focusing on developing young players.
One would have to assume that several of those teams would love to have a nucleus of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier. That trio alone would be the foundation of a great rebuilding effort. Of course on most lottery teams they would have likely been given a larger role on a team that lost 50+ games.
Instead, they on a team that has won over 50 games and is likely to finish as the 2nd seed headed into the playoffs. At times they’ve played a supporting role to Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, but they’ve done their own share of heavy lifting throughout the season as well.
If you can believe it, this will actually be the third playoff appearance for Terry Rozier III. He’s shown flashes of great potential in the prior two years. He actually has a total of 120 postseason points (across 22 games). The trademark speed and confidence was on display in the past. What he needed was to be able to pick his spots and play under control. The increased comfort is the chicken and the increased control is the egg. I’m not sure which came first, but they are clearly a byproduct of each other. Now he’s a key cog in the machine.
Speaking of confidence, Jaylen Brown showed in last year’s playoffs that he’s not afraid of anyone. As a brash rookie, he refused to shrink from the shadow of LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Even without Isaiah Thomas, Brown was consistently fighting for loose balls and forcing the issue at every opportunity. This season he took that experience and built upon it to establish himself as a core piece to the Celtics’ future.
Jayson Tatum could (and should) be the best of the three. He heads into his first postseason as the number one option on offense. Circumstance aside, let that sink in for a moment. He has the tools and the makeup to be a truly special scorer in this league and there’s no better place to be refined than by the fire of the postseason. Rotations get shortened, coaches key on limiting the top threats, and there’s no room for error.
Rozier and Brown have already benefited from playoff experience. Now all three will experience what it is like to be core pieces for a team that is likely to be favored in the first round. That alone is worth tuning in for.