Terry, Lee starting to make it work together on court


Terry, Lee starting to make it work together on court

BOSTON In the absence of Rajon Rondo, the Boston Celtics didn't find that one playmaker to run the team ... they found two in Courtney Lee and Jason Terry.

While the two have played together often this season, it wasn't until they had to play a couple Rondo-less games did each seem to figure out how to be an effective playmaker with the other on the floor.

"They've been together, but it was like neither one of them really wanted to run the position," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "And when they were forced to, they realized there were sets we can run where they don't have to be the point and be very effective. Now they're doing it."

And the impact it has on the C's can't be measured solely by assists and points, either.

One of the keys to Boston's 104-94 victory over Minnesota was their play in the second and fourth quarters.

They were the starting backcourt to begin the second quarter, and were instrumental in Boston erasing a three-point deficit and turning it into a three-point lead before Rondo returned.

After taking a seven-point lead into the fourth, the duo once again delivered early as Boston opened the quarter with an 11-3 run to go up by 15 points - their largest lead of the night at that point - before Rondo checked back into the game.

"We've built up some good chemistry, he (Lee) and I," Terry said. "It took a while but we've gotten there now."

Added Lee: "We're definitely getting a better feel for each other's game, and how to play off one another better."

Terry is a 6-foot-2 combo guard while Lee is a 6-5 combo guard who can also play some at small forward. That versatility has the potential to impact games on various levels; among them, being a reliable backup for Rondo.

"We both can handle the ball, we both can get us into our offense early and we both like to fly out in transition," said Terry who had a season-high 11 assists against Milwaukee on Saturday which was one of the games Rondo missed while serving a two-game suspension.

And while neither is a tradition bring-the-ball-up kind of point guard, it's clear that the league is gravitating more and more away from those type of playmakers as backups or key reserves.

That's why Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, has insisted that he's not seeking to add another ball-handler to the mix anytime soon.

And because both know each other's games better, Terry says it's easier to just play now rather than try to play and be the team's point guard, too.

"In Doc's system and in this system a multitude of ball handlers can be on the floor at any given time, so that's why our skillset plays right in for each other," Terry said. "If I see him (Lee) get the outlet, I'm gone. If he sees me, he's gone. So there's no hesitation. There's definitely a much, much smoother burden on each other."

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.


But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."