Tonight’s Eastern Conference finals rematch against Cleveland — complete with an 8 p.m. start time that defies the spirit of exhibition season — will have at least one element in common with last May.
Kyrie Irving won’t play.
The Celtics guard, shortly after playing 29 minutes over the first three quarters of the Celtics’ home win over Charlotte Sunday, announced he wouldn’t be playing against his former team tonight. Instead, he’ll next make an appearance when the Celtics wrap up the exhibition season Saturday night in Cleveland.
Considering Irving asked to play those extra minutes against the Hornets — Brad Stevens’ target zone had been in the low- to mid-20s — the Celtics coach was on board with Irving’s request.
“Probably intended more like 25 but he wanted to keep going from a conditioning standpoint and it didn’t affect him being able to go all the way through and hard (yesterday),” Stevens said after yesterday’s practice. “We were thinking about both of those things as the 29-minute mark hit. But he feels really good and that’s a good thing.”
Rozier’s role change
Terry Rozier, praised as a “stud” by Stevens Sunday, continues on his mission to be known as the best backup point guard in the league — certainly one good enough to start on most teams.
“It’s something good to have,” he said when asked if winning Sixth Man of the Year was a goal. “But I want to win. I want to win as a whole. I want the big trophy. If I get any individual goal as far as Sixth Man and all that, it’s good to have, but I think we can be very special, we can win the whole thing.”
Stevens’ challenge with Rozier — if it can be called that — is simple.
“I just have to figure out how to get him as many minutes as possible,” said Stevens. “He’s tremendous. And, not only in the way he plays when you guys all see him in the games, but just the way he goes about his everyday business. He works as hard as anybody on our roster. It’s immediate energy; it’s noticeable when he’s in the game. That’s just one of those things that’s going to be important or our team moving forward. To his credit, all he’s done is come in and work and played. That’s all he usually does.”
Beyond Rozier and the other main members of the so-called BWA (Bench With Attitude), though, minutes distribution could get interesting.
“All 15 guys on every team want to play all 48 minutes, it’s just kinda the way that every season goes,” said Stevens. “Obviously with guys back that have played increased minutes before, that’s going — maybe challenging to them at times, if they play a little bit less. And don’t quite do what they did in games at times last year. But everybody is going to have their opportunity, everybody’s going to have enough time to shine. It’s just about being patient.”
New guy on board
Marcus Georges-Hunt, a former Maine Red Claw and Celtics training camp invitee who played in Minnesota last season, was signed to a contract yesterday.
“I’m a big fan of him, have been since he was here the last time on a training camp roster,” said Stevens. “I just think he knows how to play, and I thought he impacted our practice really well already.”