BOSTON — The Celtics went into halftime of Game 2 trailing by seven with Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James in the middle of a 42-point triple-double.
Boston needed a spark or it was going to head to Cleveland with the Eastern Conference finals tied at one game apiece.
Enter: Terry Rozier.
The Celtics point guard struggled in the first half but exploded in the third quarter for 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting, helping the C’s build a seven-point edge entering the fourth quarter en route to a 107-94 victory Tuesday night at TD Garden.
“Just me being aggressive. I got to come out from the start and be aggressive,” Rozier said after the game. “I was kind of too passive. Going under my screens, I wasn’t shooting. So, I didn’t come out being aggressive, but that’s what just gives me the confidence and knock down the next one.”
Rozier finished with 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting, along with five rebounds.
Rozier has been fantastic since All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving was ruled out for the remainder of the season in April after knee surgery.
The third-year guard has supplied the Celtics with much-needed scoring, energy, clutch plays and very few turnovers. He’s averaging 17.4 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game during this playoff run — not bad for someone who got their first career start earlier this season.
Jaylen Brown, who along with Rozier outscored the Cavs’ starting backcourt of George Hill and J.R. Smith 41-3 in Game 2, isn’t surprised by the Louisville product’s improvement.
“I’ve been saying it all year. I think I said it the first game of the year, preseason — Terry, with the opportunity could be one of the best guards in the league,” Brown said.
“It was kinda like, ‘What is Jaylen Brown talking about?’ People were looking at me like I was crazy. Terry definitely has proved with his opportunity that he can hang with the big dogs. I’m just proud of him, and his development is going to continue to go up.”
The bad news for the Cavs is Rozier mostly has struggled shooting the ball this series. He’s hit just two of his 11 3-point shots and converting on 42.6 percent of his shots overall.
Cleveland could be in real trouble if Rozier gets hot from beyond the arc.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports
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