Celtics rookie Terry Rozier is just 6 feet 1 inch and fairly listed at 190 pounds, so he does not stand out as someone who seems likely to take away a rebound from opponents. But since finding a spot in Boston’s regular rotation recently, that is exactly what he has done.
Prior to being held without a rebound in the Celtics’ 107-96 win over the Magic on Monday, Rozier had corralled 19 rebounds in 62 minutes over the last six games. He entered Monday with a rebounding percentage of 10.5, which ranks seventh in the NBA among guards who have appeared in at least 20 games this season.
“Terry has really added to us in the last couple games, because I feel like he’s been able to handle the ball, make plays for others, and rebound,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “And I just think that that’s a big deal for our team. Our rebounding has not been our best strength this entire season.”
Rozier says his ability to gobble up missed shots can be traced back to childhood, when he was one of the smaller players on the court. If he wanted to ball, he needed to go and get it.
“I think it shows my toughness that guys feel like I can rebound,” Rozier said. “You put me in there to rebound and I’m gonna get the job done. Anything the coach needs me to do.”
Rozier said the key to chasing down missed shots is tracking the flight of the ball. He generally has an idea where the carom will veer, and he is an above-average leaper, so that makes things easier.
“I think rebounding is more heart and toughness,” Rozier said. “You’ve got to have it. You can’t really teach rebounding. You can teach how to box out, but rebounding, that’s something you’ve got to have in you.”
Rozier said he has become increasingly comfortable now that he is playing regularly. But he also understands that his recent opportunity has, in large part, come due to the Celtics’ attrition. While he is getting this chance, he is determined to show that Stevens can trust him even when Boston returns to full strength.
“It’s tough not playing and then just people not being on the team because they’re hurt and you just get thrown out there,” Rozier said. “It’s tough, especially playing at this level where everybody’s good. So you’ve just got to be ready, and I’m more calm now and more confident, so that helps.”
Crowder on mend
Stevens said that forward Jae Crowder, who has been sidelined since suffering a high ankle sprain in a March 11 loss to the Rockets, is progressing. But Stevens acknowledged that the initial hope of a return within two weeks is likely a “very, very conservative estimate.”
Crowder did not travel with the Celtics on their recent two-game road trip, but Stevens said the plan is for him to join the team on its upcoming five-game West Coast road trip, which begins in Phoenix on Saturday night.
“I saw him today real briefly before he went back into his rehab,” Stevens said. “He said he’s feeling better, but there’s a big difference between that and playing a game.”
Forward Jonas Jerebko returned Monday after missing two games with a sore left ankle and Achilles’. He said he began to experience some soreness after the Celtics’ loss to the Pacers last week. He underwent an MRI, which did not reveal a significant injury. Jerebko tore his right Achilles while playing for the Pistons in 2010, so in this instance he wanted to err on the side of caution. “Stuff happens during the game,” said Jerebko. “You can get kicked, stuff can swell up on you. I don’t know what it was, but after the game I was just really sore. I’ve had it with my other Achilles’ . . . so always when you feel something it’s like ‘Oh.’ So doc just did an MRI on it. Everything was fine, but like I said, take a couple games off and be ready for this playoff push.” Jerebko played 19 minutes against the Magic and did not score, but he grabbed five rebounds.