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Celtics 118, Magic 103: Could Terry Rozier help solve C's biggest problem?

Rob Bradford
November 25, 2017 - 12:05 am

Terry Rozier had just scored a career-high 23 points, been mobbed by a throng of postgame media and was already on his way toward Saturday night's game in Indiana. It all led one reporter to ask another reporter what seemed like a semi-pertinent question.

"Can Rozier be as good as Avery Bradley?"

"As a player? Well, he's a better quote," was the response.

OK, perhaps it's still a reach to think that Rozier, a player who came into Friday night averaging just 8.7 points and 23 minutes per game, was a candidate to replace what Bradley left behind. After all, the former Celtic, and current Piston, is netting just more than 17 points and 31 minutes a game.

Rozier doesn't have to be Bradley with this team. But it sure would help if he offers more games like the one he turned in during the Celtics' 118-103 win over the Magic at TD Garden. (For a complete recap, click here.)

"You just kind of knew that he’s going to have nights like this," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "I mean, not always going to shoot it great but he’s too good of a shooter to shoot a low percentage, I think."

There's not much to pick apart with this Celtics team to date, but if there is any concern it could be found in scoring from players outside the starting five. The C's are second-to-last in the NBA in the percentage of two-pointers delivered by their bench, with the reserves averaging 19 minutes of playing time in each of their 20 games.

Right now the Celtics' five starters are all managing double-figures. Kyrie Irving (22.9), Jaylen Brown (15.9), Jayson Tatum (14), Al Horford (13.3) and Marcus Morris (12.6) have combined to show more offensive potential than the Isaiah Thomas-led group of a year ago. It's after those five where the uncertainty lies.

Marcus Smart is simply not an offensive threat, turning in another subpar shooting night (1-for-7 from the floor, 4 points) in the win over the Magic. Aron Baynes has his moments, as was evident in the 13-point outing Friday night. And Shane Larkin, another potential offensive ignitor, hasn't shown enough to avoid four DNP-coach's decision.

Perhaps the Celtics will find their solution down the road via the $8.4 million salary exemption. Until then, however, they really need Rozier to emerge into the player Stevens knows is there. The 23-year-old did average 29 points a game in high school, and 17 with Louisville. The potential exists. Now, the Celtics need the guard to start proving it.

"Any way you put it, I’m going to keep shooting, I’m going to keep playing," Rozier said. "I’m not perfect. I’m going to have tough games. I’ll have games like this. It just feels good."

JBL Audio Stat of the Game: Terry Rozier was 5-of-7 from 3-point range en route to a career-high 23 points.

JBL is the Official Sound of Jayson Tatum, The Boston Celtics, and the NBA.

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