Terry the Truth: Rozier Displays Pierce-Like Perfection vs. Cavs

BOSTON – Truth be told, Terry Rozier was unstoppable Wednesday night. At least during the first half, as he helped the Celtics put away the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden with Paul Pierce-esque perfection.

Rozier erupted for 22 points on 8-of-8 shooting before the break, making him the first Boston player to log 20-plus points on a perfect shooting clip since Paul Pierce’s 20-point, 7-of-7 second-half effort against the Chicago Bulls on Oct. 30, 2009, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Filling the void of an ill Kyrie Irving in the starting lineup, Rozier erupted for 16 points out of the gate, accounting for more than half of Boston’s 27 points during the opening frame.

“He started it off,” said Jaylen Brown, who scored 23 points off the bench – including 14 during the second half of Boston’s 123-103 win. “Terry’s one of the best guards in the league if you ask me. When he comes out with that aggression, no one can stop him.”

Rozier stayed hot all the way through to the end of the second quarter, as he hit a buzzer-beating, 31-foot bomb to send the C’s into the break with a 65-50 lead.

From there, Boston cruised to a 20-point win behind Rozier’s season-best, and game-high, 26-point effort.

“That’s Terry, just being aggressive,” Brown reiterated. “It looked like he was having fun out there, just being aggressive, playing hard. That’s what he can do.”

Rozier knew he’d have to fill a scoring void as soon as Irving texted him Wednesday morning, telling his backup point guard that he’d be too sick to suit up that night against his former team.

“He makes it tough for me,” Rozier joked after the game. “Because all them points he’s scoring in the first quarter, first half, so when I come out there it’s like, ‘Damn.’ It put a lot of pressure on me. But I just want to go out there and be effective whether I’m coming off the bench or starting.”

No matter his role, Rozier’s been making the most of his minutes of late. It hasn’t always come in the form of high-volume scoring, but he’s been an outstanding boost of energy for Boston during its five-game winning streak.

“I think Terry’s played, not only well tonight, but the better part of the last few games he’s been very good,” C’s coach Brad Stevens said. “I’ve been really encouraged by him. He’s a great guy with his work ethic, his desire to get better. He never says a word about the days he doesn’t start. He just comes in, tries to play his hardest, so (I’m) really encouraged.”

Rozier’s first half was about as encouraging as could be. He made all four of his shots outside the 3-point arc, all four of his shots inside the arc, and both of his shots from the free-throw line. On top of that, he dished out three of his game-high-tying six assists ahead of the break, while also corralling three of his team-high-tying eight rebounds.

“Just going out there, I had high confidence, was just playing free,” Rozier said.

“When I’m like that,” he added before pausing with a smile. “I don’t even want to say it…”

It’s OK, Terry. We’ll say it for you – you’re unstoppable when you play like that.

That’s the truth.

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