The Boston Celtics entered play on Sunday looking to take an early 1-0 series lead in the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward out for the season, plus backup point guard, Marcus Smart, not ready to come back from thumb surgery, Boston’s title chances currently rest in the hands of former University of Louisville basketball player, Terry Rozier.
On an afternoon where the Celtics needed their young point guard to play well above his experience-level, Rozier came through in the clutch. In Boston’s 113-107 overtime win over Milwaukee, the former Cards standout finished with 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal. However, it was his almost-game-winning jump shot over former Kentucky guard, Eric Bledsoe, that had the basketball world going crazy.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 15, 2018
Rozier proved throughout the year he’s capable of making an impact in big games, but his performance on Sunday was truly something special. No, he didn’t put up big-time numbers, but each time Brad Stevens needed a guy to make a play, Rozier stepped up. Case in point, Rozier accounted for 8 of the Celtics’ 14 total points in overtime and added two humongous defensive rebounds in the game’s final 15 seconds of play.
As Cards fans, we saw Rozier’s potential when he was still wearing the red and black. Rick Pitino coached him hard, but at the end of the day, the kid from Youngstown, Ohio improved greatly from his Freshman to Sophomore year at Louisville. Needless to say, I have to believe those experiences in college prepared Rozier for moments like these in the NBA.
I think we can all agree on how satisfying it is to see Rozier finally excel in the NBA, much less in the playoffs. Like most sports, the postseason is where NBA players make a name for themselves and build a legacy. We’ve seen a lot of great players fail to produce this time of the year, but Rozier clearly proved on Sunday afternoon he isn’t going to be one of those guys.
With Boston’s vitally-important first win over Milwaukee, the Celtics will begin preparing for the Bucks again on Tuesday night at 8:00PM. If Rozier can shine once more for his team on Tuesday, he’ll have the Celtics in great position to eliminate one of the league’s most-talented players, Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. That within itself, would be a great accomplishment for a squad dealing with serious injury problems.
Derek Snyder joined as a contributor for TheCardinalConnect.com in April of 2018. He previously covered everything Louisville Cardinals as the Site-Expert for BigRedLouie.com in 2016. Follow Derek on Twitter @dcolesny10.