BOSTON - Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier found out on Wednesday morning that Kyrie Irving would miss the team’s matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers thanks to the flu. Once Rozier received the text message from Boston’s all-star point guard, he knew he’d be getting the start.
The 24-year-old didn’t disappoint, going for a season-high 26 points on 9/13 shooting in Boston’s 123-103 win over the Cavaliers. Rozier tied his previous season-high of 22 in the first half on Wednesday, as he opened up the night going 8/8 during his strong first-half. He says that he approaches starts just like any other game.
“I wouldn’t say it’s different,” Rozier said, “But obviously I know that I’m going out there right away, so I can get myself ready for that. It’s kind of different, but at the same time I’m just trying to be effective either way.”
Rozier was playing loose and free from the tip tonight, as he asserted himself almost immediately. At times this season, it’s seemed as though he’s been forcing some things on the offensive end, as Brad Stevens noted earlier in the year, but that was certainly not the case on Wednesday.
“Yeah, that’s what it’s all about,” said Rozier. “Just going out there, had high confidence, just playing free. When I’m like that… I don’t want to say it.”
A reporter then chimed in. “Unstoppable?”
“Yeah, exactly,” Rozier responded.
Playing free can be tough when you’re trying to fill Irving’s shoes sporadically throughout the season, but Rozier joked about that pressure following Wednesday’s win.
“(Irving) makes it tough for me, because all them points he’s scoring in the first quarter, first half, so when I come out there it’s like, ‘Damn,’” Rozier said laughing. “It put a lot of pressure on me, but he’s great. Like I said, I just want to go out there and be effective whether I’m coming off the bench or starting.”