- Boston Celtics reserve guard Terry Rozier went on two ESPN shows on Tuesday and painted an ugly picture of the Celtics’ disappointing season.
- Rozier said the team realized five games in that it wasn’t going to be easy to blend their talent and that they often had different game plans during games than what they went over in practice.
- Rozier said players struggled to play next to ball-dominant players like Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, who Rozier described as a player “you have to adjust to.”
- Rozier, a restricted free agent this summer, said if the Celtics wanted to re-sign him to bring the team back for another year that he “might have to go.”
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The Boston Celtics season never materialized as expected, and it ended in a disappointing fashion, with a five-game loss in the second round at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Many expected the Celtics to contend for the NBA Finals this season after bringing a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward into the mix of a young core that made the Eastern Conference Finals the year before.
Instead, the team struggled with chemistry both on and off the court. The Celtics had an up-and-down season that would see them reel off several straight wins, only to then lose a few straight, with players making public comments that seemed critical of other players.
Reserve guard Terry Rozier exemplified some of those issues this season. Rozier shined and played a major part in the Celtics’ postseason run last season while filling in for Irving. This year, coming off the bench behind Irving, he struggled to produce in a smaller role.
On Tuesday, Rozier went on ESPN’s “Get Up!” and “First Take” to discuss the Celtics season. As Rozier attempted to explain why things went sideways in Boston, he painted a damning picture of the team’s season.
Rozier said things went downhill quickly, saying the team realized it would be a struggle within the first five games of the season. Rozier said that one issue was their inability to translate what they went over in practice to the games.
“I felt like we wasn’t playing like we wanted to,” Rozier said on “First Take.” “The game plan wasn’t – we didn’t go out there and execute the game plan like we wanted.”
Rozier told Mike Greenberg on “Get Up” that the Celtics often practiced in two distinct groups of five, but that during games, they struggled with blending those groups.
“We’d come in the game and it would be a different game plan then kinda what we expected and went through in practice,” Rozier said. He added: “When we go out there, I feel like a lot of guys would be mixed up. It wouldn’t be the first five and the second five. So what we talked about in practice is not what we went through in the game. It was like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna keep Kyrie out there, and we’re gonna put the other guys out there with him and we’re gonna figure it out.’”
While commenting on Irving, whose struggles with leadership this season were well-documented, Rozier’s attempts to compliment Irving ended up sounding like a critique.
“He’s a great guy, great leader,” Rozier told Greenberg.
“You just have to adjust to his style. Whatever Kyrie wants done, he’s gonna show it, that’s what he wants done. And you have to adjust to his style of play and how he goes about every game and every day.”
Rozier said on “First Take” that he felt Irving and Hayward were treated differently by coaches and that the rest of the team had to make adjustments to them.
“I feel like that, along with the coaches and them treating Gordon and Kyrie – I wouldn’t say different than everybody else – but I feel like they just treated them like they was on that level where there were no adjustments that could be made because they are who they are,” Rozier said. “And we never figured it out.”
The Celtics made a lineup change early in the season that brought Hayward off the bench to try to balance the units. Rozier said his role was reduced because Hayward was a high-usage player who had more plays called for him.
After the Celtics’ season ended, Rozier told Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill that he sacrificed more than anybody else on the team. He said he was a top point guard in the NBA and didn’t get to show it, but didn’t complain during the season.
Rozier on Tuesday reiterated that stance on “First Take.”
“I sacrificed my talent the most,” he said, adding: “The ball was in either Kyrie or Gordon Hayward’s hand most of the time, so I feel like Terry Rozier was just in the corner or on the bench.”
Rozier is a restricted free agent this summer. The Celtics can match any offer for him, but his future in Boston may be tied to Irving’s decision. If Irving re-signs with the Celtics, Rozier would likely leave in free agency. If Irving leaves, then the Celtics could explore matching an offer for Rozier to keep him as their starting point guard.
Stephen A. Smith asked Rozier what he would say if the Celtics tried to run the same exact team back for another season.
“I might have to go,” Rozier said. “I put up with a lot this year. I said what I said after the season. I think we all know I’m not trying to step into that again.”
Rozier’s comments only confirm what seemed apparent in Boston from the outside. Given that Rozier said the 2018-19 Celtics were the most talented team he’s ever been on, it only makes their season and inability to jell more disappointing.