Frankly, Smart is a better facilitator than Rozier, a fact that wont be depicted in their assist averages nor with their turnover averages because its directly related the level of difficulty, velocity and ingenuity in the passes Smart has routinely shown himself capable of making than the volume of assists either guard can generate.
That said, Rozier is a smart passer, solid ball-handler and decent scorer himself, with a more simplistic approach to racking up points and a streaky three-point shot but the confidence and ability to continuously attack the teeth of the defense.
Nonetheless, with Irving filling the primary scoring role from the shooting guard position, Roziers primary role will be to keep the whole team involved while helping Irving be in the best positions to score himself.
Its a weird injury, especially in this sport. You see a lot of it in baseball, said Smart. So its getting in the pool a lot to really keep going. Its light on your body. Even in the pool its a little tender but Im able to do a lot more things than I would be able to do out here, because the pool takes a lot of pressure off of you. So pool work, a little treatment around the area, trying to loosen up the glute and everything else around it.
Perhaps even more notable than the way it changes the Celtics offense is how playing Rozier at point guard alleviates a measure of the defensive pressure thatll be put on Irving, with Rozier having proven to be a hard-nosed defender not afraid to pick defenders up fullcourt if need be. With better physical tools and a natural affinity for defense, that end is where opponents will notice the biggest difference in Bostons performance.
Per Basketball Reference, Irving has played 20.0 percent of his minutes at shooting guard this season, the second-highest mark of his career behind the career-high of 29.0 percent of minutes he played at shooting guard last season.
Per 82games (which notably has Irving playing 11.0 percent of his minutes at shooting guard this season), Irving held a defensive rating of 107.2 when defending twos and an average defensive rating of 118.8 when he defended lead guards.
Interestingly, per Basketball Reference, Irving and Rozier are the third-least successful two-man lineup Irving is in, though they outscored opponents by 2.4 points per 100 possessions in 442:40 minutes (they also recorded +0.7 steals and +0.5 blocks per 100 possessions together). In 3:20 together this postseason, the two have had little success together, drawing even (0.0) and being outscored by 16.7 points per 100 possessions in the two distinct five-man lineups they were in (which also featured both Al Horford and Jaylen Brown beside Marcus Morris or Daniel Theis).
So Ive been hit multiple times in the same area. Really it was just a deep bruise. I go back out there and the wind initially got knocked out of me, he said. It was weird because when I hit Vucevic I took an extra step and thought I was fine and then all of a sudden I just felt like somebody stabbed me with a knife and I went down.
In such a small sample size, Boston could simply need to play better when playing together but Stevens could also stand to experiment with different lineup variations, perhaps even playing Gordon Hayward beside Irving, Rozier, Brown and Daniel Theis (who Rozier actually records his highest net points per 100 possessions (5.0) with in a two-man lineup). Per Basketball Reference, that specific five-man lineup outscored opponents by 14.6 points per 100 possessions in 56:21 minutes.
Celtics shooting guard Marcus Smart is making progress after suffering a partially torn oblique muscle, but his return to the court still seems a ways away.
Today was my first day being able to walk without grimacing in pain, Smart told reporters Tuesday afternoon after practice at the Auerbach Center. It still hurts real bad for me to laugh, to cough, [and] to sneeze.
It still hurts real bad to laugh, cough or sneeze, he said. But the everyday stuff is getting better walking, getting out of bed and things like that. So making great progress, but unfortunately theres nothing really anybody can do. Just have to get your body ready.
Smart, who suffered the injury in the third quarter of the teams penultimate regular-season game, likened the pain to getting stabbed with a knife. He said he required assistance for basic movements, like standing up, for four or five days immediately following the injury.
Everyday activities are becoming easier for him, but walking, and even breathing, more fluidly is still at the top of his checklist before entertaining an earlier-than-expected comeback.
Much of Smarts recovery currently consists of pool exercises because being in water alleviates some of the pressure on his body. And in that environment, he said he still moves very gingerly. Smart said hes also been getting treatment around his hip bone to try and loosen up the area.
I actually feel better than the first three or four days, said Smart. Still in pain with certain movements. Today was my first day being able to walk without grimacing in any pain.
Unfortunately, with this injury, theres nothing really that anybody can do, he said. Just kind of got to let your body heal itself.
If there is a short-term sign of progress, it will be Smarts presence on the bench for Game 2 tomorrow night against Indiana. He wasnt able to leave his house on Sunday.
Its going to be a while, added coach Brad Stevens, who noted he hasnt requested an updated timeline since the teams original announcement that Smart would likely be out at least four weeks.
Smart said hes sticking to the doctors initial projections but hopes to start jogging within the next two weeks. The current goal is to establish a comfort level with everyday activities so that he can advance to basketball.
A member of the starting lineup since late November, Smart had missed just one game this season before suffering the injury. He was not on the bench Sunday for Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers but plans to be for Game 2 on Wednesday.
While he cant be on the floor with his teammates, he said hes still trying to stay involved by offering any tips and pointers that he can — particularly on the defensive end, where he often shines. He said Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who both experienced season-ending injuries last year, have been huge in telling him that hes not alone.
Just really showering me with love and encouragement, he said. Obviously, theyre devastated that Im not out there and things like that, but theyre keeping me in my right mind.