Celtics coach Brad Stevens plans to play Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier together more
As if the Boston Celtics did not have enough internal drama during the regular season, they were dealt a hefty deficit before the playoffs even began, with shooting guard Marcus Smart suffering an abdominal oblique injury that will keep him out for the next three to five weeks.
With the Celtics losing their best perimeter defender, head coach Brad Stevens is looking to mix up his rotations. Stevens said on Tuesday that he plans to give more minutes to Terry Rozier alongside Kyrie Irving, likely in the hopes of taking some defensive pressure off of Irving:
Brad Stevens says the plan is to play Terry Rozier with Kyrie Irving a bit more now that Marcus Smart is sidelined. He wants Kyrie to be able to play off the ball a good amount, as he used to when Smart was active.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 16, 2019
Although Irving is still a point guard, he has increasingly played more and more minutes at the 2 since joining the Celtics. Indeed, Rozier would take over the primary ball-handling duties if the two shared the floor, which should allow Kyrie to spread the floor.
However, this means Rozier must be efficient with the basketball. In last year’s playoffs — with Irving sidelined due to injury — Rozier came into his own as a playmaker, averaging 4.95 assists per turnover while helping to lead Boston within a single game of reaching the NBA Finals.
Although Rozier posted fairly similar per-36 stats to last season, he has seen a drop in efficiency from beyond the arc, and has at times been criticized for hoisting early in the shot clock.
Still, his length and ability to push guards out to the perimeter could be exactly what Boston needs against Indiana Pacers point guard Darren Collison, who is excellent in the pick-and-roll and shoots the 3 very efficiently.