Boston Celtics: With Kyrie Irving out, spotlight focuses even more on Terry Rozier

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 05: Terry Rozier
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 05: Terry Rozier /

The loss of Kyrie Irving is huge for the Boston Celtics and Terry Rozier will be expected to fill part of the void.

A quick look at the Boston Celtics reveals the team has been more of a hospital unit than an NBA team at times this season. Stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving top this list, forcing Celtics fans to press pause on their dreams of an NBA title in 2018.

That’s where Terry Rozier comes into play.

Rozier has taken a huge leap forward this season. While he was expected to find improvement, the losses of Irving and Marcus Smart have found Rozier playing important minutes.

Boston is still a team that goes through Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford. Contributions will be needed from every player in order for Boston to have a chance at moving past the first round. It is Rozier, though, who is now holding the keys.

As it is, the Celtics can finish no worse than the second-seed in the Eastern Conference. Remarkable, considering the number of games missed by Irving (18), Hayward (basically all), and Smart (24). Throw in Brown and Horford missing a combined 19 games, it is a wonder Boston has found this kind of success.

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Head coach Brad Stevens has proven once again why he should always be in consideration for coach of the year. The amount of effort he gets from his players and finding ways to win are huge reasons the Celtics are in contention.

But a continued high-level of play by Rozier will help determine Boston’s fate come playoff time.

Terry Rozier: veteran guard

Until the loss to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night — and the game prior he sat out — Rozier had rattled off 24 straight games with double digits in points.

Rozier was expected to fill part of the void created by the departure of Avery Bradley and he has exceeded those expectations at every turn.

There was the 33-point, 5-steal performance against the Sacramento Kings in March. Rozier also had a 31-point, 7-rebound game against the Atlanta Hawks in February. And who can forget his triple-double against the New York Knicks back in January?

Overall, Rozier is averaging 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

With Irving and Smart both out, Rozier has stepped up even more over the past 10 games. During this span, points (16.1), rebounds (6.2), and assists (4.1) have all increased.

Now the veteran among the guards, Rozier will likely continue to see his minutes increase. His presence will be vital on both ends of the floor, especially for this defensive-minded team.

Rozier has struggled at times from the field –especially behind the arc — but has the ability to drive to the hoop. While Boston doesn’t have a knockdown sharpshooter, the majority of the lineup can shoot (and make the three).

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The season began with 75% of the roster new to Boston. Rozier is one of the few holdovers from last year’s run. Wouldn’t it be a nice, unexpected surprise if the Boston Celtics win the title without the two stars brought in to do exactly that?  It’s still a while off, but if banner 18 is hoisted, Rozier will be the main reason why.