The NBA Playoffs is a completely different animal than the regular season. Defenses are tighter, game-play is slower, and games are closer. When this occurs, anything can happen. We saw the Cavaliers upset a Warriors team that was 73-9 in 2016, last year a veteran Los Angeles Clippers team was upset by a young Utah Jazz team in its first post-season appearance since 2012.
These upsets were caused by supporting players failing to step up when the defensive attention was placed elsewhere. In 2016 it was Harrison Barnes, who averaged just 9.3 points on 35.2% shooting and 31.0% from three in 31.7 minutes per game.
In 2017, it was Chris Paul‘s back court teammates J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Austin Rivers who failed to step up. The Clippers were up 2-1 on Utah, and Blake Griffin got hurt. Instead of scrapping it out and stepping up to the moment, those three shot a combined 17/59 in all three subsequent Clipper losses – 28.8% from the field. If the right players don’t step up to the moment, then their teams will fail in the playoffs. Here are the players who need to step up this season for their teams:
Boston Celtics: Terry Rozier
Rozier in Wins: 11.8 points per game, 40.4% 3P, 1.11 PPP, 1.01 PPPA
Rozier in Losses: 10.5 points per game, 35.4% 3P, 1.03 PPP, 1.11 PPPA
Terry Rozier needs to step up to the task of starting point guard for the Celtics to make a deep run. If Kyrie Irving is not back, then the Celtics are very much in danger of losing to a well coached Heat team or a young and talented Milwaukee Bucks team. The good news is, Rozier will not only likely be on his home court for the games he’s manning starting point guard, but Rozier also has one of the best coaches in the NBA, Brad Stevens, one of the best passing big men in the NBA, Al Horford, and versatile wing players like Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, and Jaylen Brown to work with. The Celtics really just need Rozier to be a leader, hit threes, and play defense, which he’s been doing all season so far.