Marcus Smart may be out with a torn oblique, but the Boston Celtics can’t continue to give Terry Rozier any sort of significant playing time.
The Celtics didn’t just lose Marcus Smart when he went down with a torn oblique, but they gained more Terry Rozier. At this point, it’s hard to know what will end up costing the team more.
After a breakout season in 2017-18, especially in the playoffs, Rozier followed it up with wire-to-wire mediocrity in 2018-19.
He had the third-worst net rating on the team, beating out only Robert Williams and Guerschon Yabusele. He was last in effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage (PJ Dozier was technically last in both, but he only played in six games). Shall I go on? Yes? Okay, here’s more.
Rozier had the third worst offensive rating on the Celtics, again beating out Williams and Yabusele. He was fourth on the team in isolation frequency but ranked in the 40th percentile on those plays. When you look at the players around Rozier in these key statistical categories, they all have one thing common. They don’t play much.
In Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers, Rozier wasted no time validating every concern you could have with him playing consistent playoff minutes.
Right away, Rozier was screened by Domantas Sabonis on a pick and roll. He failed to stay attached to Sabonis who easily grabbed the offensive rebound and scored. Rozier’s pick and roll defense is horrendous at times. Nobody is expecting him to guard Sabonis well in the post but staying attached on a play like this comes down to effort, which he seems to save for the offensive end.
The following trip down the court, Rozier drove to the basket and missed a lefty finger roll with two defenders on him. Sabonis helped off of Marcus Morris, but Rozier’s tunnel vision kept him from finding the open man. It happens a lot.
Another bad shot, plain and simple. Keep in mind this is during Rozier’s first minutes of action. He checked in with the Celtics up two and was subbed out with Indiana up eight.
This lazy foul on Bojan Bogdanovic finally led to Brad Stevens to take Rozier out. He did not return to the game until late in the third quarter when the Celtics were up 60-51. The bad shots continued to flow.
Similar to his drive in the first quarter, Rozier’s tunnel vision forces another bad shot. He gets his own rebound and gets fouled, but that doesn’t mean it was a good decision. The end of the third quarter marked one of Rozier’s only positive plays of the game when he hit a buzzer-beating three.
Rozier finished the game with five points (1-of-6 FG), five rebounds and two assists in just over 18 minutes of playing time.
The Celtics won Game 1 mostly because their strong defense in the third quarter sparked a monumental shooting slump out of the Pacers. That’s not going to happen every game, so the Celtics can’t act satisfied with the way their offense performed.
They simply can’t afford to give Rozier significant playing time, even without Smart. Give the secondary ballhandling duties to Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford. Rozier can’t be trusted to make the right play.