Terry Rozier and Eric Bledsoe

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Rozier gets best of Bledsoe in battle of Drew vs. 'Who?' as Celtics-Bucks turns nasty

John Tomase
April 25, 2018 - 12:25 am
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Just call it the battle of Drew vs. "Who?"

Celtics guard Terry Rozier and Bucks counterpart Eric Bledsoe have been at each other's throats all series, so it was only a matter of time before they physically clashed.

That moment arrived in the third quarter of Tuesday night's Game 5, when an escalating series of shoves as Rozier cut through the lane culminated in Bledsoe checking his fellow guard right into an official. Rozier received a technical and Bledsoe a flagrant foul, with Rozier ultimately winning the battle by drilling a 3-pointer in Bledsoe's face.

The Celtics won the war as well in a 92-87 victory that sends the series back to Milwaukee on Thursday with Boston holding a 3-2 lead.

"Just out there having fun," Rozier said with a smile. "It's all good."

Neither player wanted much to do with dissecting their confrontation -- "We're looking forward to Game 6, simple as that," Bledsoe said -- but there's little doubt they're taking their one-on-one matchup very personally.

Maybe it's Kentucky (Bledsoe) vs. Louisville (Rozier). More likely, it traces to how they've referred to each other in interviews. Rozier mistakenly called Bledsoe "Drew" after Game 1, presumably by accident. The Bucks guard, who didn't appreciate being mistaken for a 46-year-old ex-quarterback, responded with a terse, "Who?" when asked later in the series about Rozier's strong play. "I don't even know who the (expletive) that is," he added for good measure.

He certainly knows now. Both players scored 16 points on Tuesday in supporting roles. Rozier (5 assists) did a better job getting the Celtics into their offense, while Bledsoe was more of a factor on the boards.

Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell, complimented by Rozier earlier in the day after going off for 33 points in a win over the Thunder, returned the favor on Twitter after the game, tweeting at Rozier: "Guess he figured out who you are brodie."

Bledsoe has emerged as an eminently hateable villain. In Milwaukee, he flexed after baskets and waved his arms to whip up the crowd after the Celtics missed a free throw. After making an early 3-pointer on Tuesday, he flashed Rozier's 3-point hand gesture at the Celtics bench. Rozier returned the favor two quarters later to Milwaukee's reserves after knocking down his 3 over Bledsoe.

"Does that bother us?" asked Marcus Morris, who played with Bledsoe in Phoenix. "It's basketball. Bled's one of my good friends. If it was someone else, maybe, but not Bled."

Morris was asked if he sees the similarities in the way the two play.

"I definitely do, and that's why I think they were clashing," he said. "They're both good dudes. They're both tough competitors. I can see that's why that's happening."

Rozier, who absorbed three blows to the face (though none from Bledsoe) in the win, took the confrontation in stride, at least publicly.

"I think that's just part of the playoffs," he said. "You watch every team in the playoffs, it's just two teams that don't want to go home and that's just part of it. It ain't nothing. It's a catfight."

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