Wednesday, January 31, 2018. It was a cold and blustery night in Boston, Massachusetts, and the New York Knicks were in town for a mid-week matchup. The Knicks were 23-28, while the Celtics were exceeding expectations at 36-15 but dealing with the injuries of Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, and Shane Larkin. In professional sports, absences often provide opportunity. Little did we know, this one would be the start of something special.
Terry Rozier got his first career start that night, going 6/14 from the field and finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. He was a plus-32. Fast forward four months, and we’re in the midst of the Scary Terry movement.
Rozier’s play has seemingly taken over the NBA, or at least the Eastern Conference, over the last month, as he’s helped this resilient Boston Celtics team take a 2-0 series lead over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rozier has shown us that progress is greater than process, Drew Bledsoe is still relevant, and that fearing no man on earth is a mentality built for the NBA’s postseason. But how did we get here?
Well, as I mentioned before, it started with that triple-double on January 31. He went on to start the following two games, scoring 31 and 11 points, respectively, in wins over the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers. Rozier then came off the bench in the Celtics’ next twelve games, but he would still finish in double figures in each of those matchups. So there we had our first true introduction to the Scary Terry that we know and love today. Sure, plenty of Celtics fans knew of Rozier’s potential, but this 15-game stretch, including his first three starts, was the beginning of a coming-out party unlike any other.
The Celtics point guard started his last 13 games of the regular season, with the highlight of the stretch coming in a 33-point performance against the Sacramento Kings on March 25th. Yeah, he was good, but playoff-Terry turned out to be great.
Rozier burst onto the postseason scene with two 23-point performances in Games 1 and 2 of the Celtics’ first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. Before we knew it, he had beef with Eric (Drew) Bledsoe, and a 26-point, 9-assist Game 7 effort. The legend of Scary Terry was suddenly very real.
When the Celtics faced the favored Philadelphia 76ers in the Conference Semifinals, Rozier answered the bell once more, averaging 19 points, 7.2 assists, and 4.4 rebounds, while also dominating NBA Twitter thanks to a Drew Bledsoe jersey.
Terry Rozier really showed up in a Bledsoe jersey... pic.twitter.com/0XHnp65w7A— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 30, 2018
He stood up to Joel Embiid, Boston’s second-round villain, while calling efforts like a late game steal a “championship play”. It was all perfect, and thanks to Tuesday night’s third quarter, it still is.
The Celtics went into halftime of Tuesday night’s Game 2 trailing by 7 points. LeBron James was coming off a monster first half, while Jaylen Brown was leading the counter punches to keep Boston afloat. Rozier on the other hand was off. He scored just 2 first-half points on 1-for-4 shooting and was a minus-14. Shockingly, Rozier seemed to be losing his swagger. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, he finished with 8 points. Four days earlier in the Celtics’ Game 5 series clincher against Philadelphia, Rozier was just 4/15 from the field, missing plenty of open looks from deep. He wasn’t bad per se, but he wasn’t great either. It certainly wasn’t the Scary Terry who had torn up the 2018 postseason thus far. If Boston wanted to win this game, Rozier would have to make some noise on the offensive end.
News flash: he did. Scary Terry arrived out of halftime, leading a 36-22 third-quarter sprint that would put the Celtics ahead by seven heading into the final quarter. Rozier had 14 points in the third on 5/8 shooting. His swagger was back, aggressively getting to the hoop while throwing down fast break dunks as LeBron trailed from behind.
The importance of this third quarter cannot be overlooked. Rozier has struggled shooting the ball in this series, hitting just 2/11 threes, but a frame like this should really help the cause. The Celtics needed an offensive jolt, and he gave it to them, while he himself received a much needed confidence boost. As a result, the Celtics are just two games away from the NBA Finals.
The third-year player out of Youngstown, Ohio has done wonders for this Celtics team. That doesn’t need to be explained much more. What should be emphasized is Rozier’s mentality. It’s a toughness and grit that represents this entire team, similar to that of Marcus Smart. Many people focus on the fun and playful “Scary Terry” theme, but there’s much more to his mantra. Rozier is talented, confident, tough, and even a bit cocky. That’s what should put fear into the hearts of his opponents. If that doesn’t exemplify these Boston Celtics and your average Bostonian, then I’m not sure what does. He’s the perfect fit for this group and city, and he’s flourishing at the perfect time. Now’s not the time to compare him to Kyrie Irving. Now’s the time appreciate the fearless and Scary Terry Rozier.