Eric Bledsoe’s first trip to the postseason in five years isn’t exactly going the way he planned.
The Milwaukee Bucks point guard, who tweeted his way out of the desert all the way back in November, looked frequently disconnected and at times even baffled during his team’s Sunday loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their best-of-seven first-round series. He missed eight of his 12 shots, posted five turnovers against four assists, and fouled out in overtime as the short-handed Celtics escaped with a victory.
Things got worse on Tuesday, as the Celtics roasted the visiting Bucks, 120-106, behind a career-playoff-high 30 points from sophomore swingman Jaylen Brown, strong games from veteran bigs Al Horford and Marcus Morris … and a second straight solid outing from Terry Rozier, Bledsoe’s opposite number in kelly green, who’s stepped in for injured All-Star Kyrie Irving and sixth man Marcus Smart and acquitted himself like a star in the making on the postseason stage.
Through two postseason games, Rozier — the third-year man out of Louisville, whose selection surprised many when the Celtics tabbed him with the No. 16 pick in the 2015 draft but with whom Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge reportedly fell in love early in the draft process — has roundly outplayed the higher-profile and higher-paid Bledsoe. He’s scoring more, he’s shooting higher percentages, he’s defending more tenaciously and he’s running his team better. To this point in the series, there isn’t a single thing Bledsoe has done better than Rozier … until the aftermath of a disappointing Game 2, when Bledsoe showed he could manage to generate bad looks off the court, too.
I asked Eric Bledsoe about Terry Rozier’s strong start to the series and if he takes that matchup personally. He responded, “Who?” I said, “Terry Rozier.”
Bledsoe: “I don’t even know who the $@%# that is.”
— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) April 18, 2018
It is possible that this is Bledsoe “retaliating” for Rozier mistakenly calling him by the wrong first name the other day:
Terry Rozier just referred to Eric Bledsoe as Drew Bledsoe. Throwback.
— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) April 15, 2018
Which seems kind of dumb to me, but then, maybe I’d be ticked if someone discussing me just wouldn’t stop calling me Adam. I mean, I’ve never even watched “Workaholics.”
Listen, maybe we should give Bledsoe the benefit of the doubt here. Life moves pretty fast in the playoffs! It can be tough to pay attention to each and every little minute detail, like the name and identity of the guy you spent 51 possessions guarding in Game 1, plus and a bunch more in Game 2. So, in the interest of offering a helpful bit of instruction: here you go, Eric.
Eric Bledsoe, a very good defender, got just turned into a pile of sad dogs baying mournfully https://t.co/sAqhCUZpyU
— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) April 15, 2018
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 18, 2018
So, that’s who Terry Rozier is. He’s the dude who’s been busting your team, and you in particular, up for the past two games, helping get a Celtics team that seemed like the likeliest upset bet in Round 1 to within two games of Round 2. He’s also the dude who doesn’t really want to feed into this, if it’s all the same to the rest of us, but who doesn’t seem to think it’s all that funny:
I asked Rozier if he cared to respond. He said, “I’m concentrated on the Milwaukee Bucks-Boston Celtics matchup. If he don’t know who I am, it’s all good.” Does he find it funny. “I don’t even think it’s funny. He might be talking out of spite or something.”
— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) April 18, 2018
Hard to imagine why he might feel that way, except for the whole “that guy’s been summarily outplaying me” thing.
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