Jason Terry Hopes to Push Boston Celtics to Another Title

With Jason Terry aboard, the Boston Celtics will not have to rely on Rajon Rondo to handle the ball for 40-plus minutes.

The flip side of the reality that the Boston Celtics lost Ray Allen, is that they found a replacement with another veteran 2-guard who has helped a team win a championship.

Jason Terry signed a three-year contract at the mid-level exception ($5 million per season) with the Celtics in July. This reinforces the Celtics’ commitment to compete for a title right now instead of rebuilding with a core of younger players. The Celtics also brought back Kevin Garnett and veteran, Paul Pierce, is signed for another season.

While Terry is not as good a shooter as Allen, he is better at handling and moving the ball to set up teammates for shots. He thrives at running the pick-and-roll. Terry averaged 4.7 assists for his career. The soon-to-be 35-year-old Terry (his birthday is on Saturday) spent the past eight years with the Dallas Mavericks and helped them win the NBA title in 2011. Despite not being a great defender, Terry can be effective with his experience.  Over the past few years, the Mavericks constantly switched between zone and man defenses with Rick Carlisle as the head coach.

Terry is a career 38% shooter from beyond the three-point arc and like most shooters, he can be streaky.  He has been known to knock down big shots with the Mavericks, especially in their title run in 2011. It will be interesting to see Terry and Rajon Rondo in the same backcourt. Rondo could help Terry get open perimeter shots. He can play both guard positions to spell Rondo. This is something the Celtics did not really have over the last two years.

The 6-foot 2-inch, 180-pounder came off the bench in his career for the Mavericks after being a starting point guard for the Atlanta Hawks in his first five years in the league. He is one of the best reserves in the NBA. Terry  won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2008-’09. Terry will be a reserve for the Celtics and he can be the instant scorer that the Celtics have not had in the backcourt since Eddie House.

Terry is incredibly durable. Other than the lockout shortened season last year (he played in 63 out of 66 games), Terry has never played fewer than 74 games in his 13-year career.

The Celtics reloaded their backcourt with the additions of Terry and Courtney Lee. These moves were even more important with the news during the summer that Avery Bradley will not be ready to return until possibly December after having surgery on both shoulders. Both Terry and Lee should keep the Celtics afloat as Bradley recuperates.

Terry, whose nickname is Jet, also brings confidence. Last month, Terry got a new tattoo of the Celtics’ logo (the Lucky Leprechaun) spinning the Larry O’Brien trophy. The original tattoo was of the NBA championship trophy before the Mavericks won in 2011.  Terry has already predicted that the Celtics will win the NBA title since they brought back the majority of last year’s team and added a few pieces, including himself.

The Celtics have also signed Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, and Jason Collins. They also drafted Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and Feb Melo in the first round before they took Melo’s teammate at Syracuse, Kris Joseph, in the second round.

Terry’s expectation is not completely off base with the Celtics’ postseason run last year. The Celtics were ahead 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat before LeBron James’ virtuoso 45-point performance in Game 6 at TD Garden. Then the Celtics hung with the Heat for three quarters in Game 7 before the Heat pulled away in the final frame.

With all of the injuries and the players they were missing in the series against the Heat, they were able to nearly conquer them with James and Dwyane Wade. Chris Bosh returned late in the series after missing the first four games with an abdominal strain and he knocked down three treys in Game 7, including a big shot in the fourth quarter that propelled the Heat’s run late in the game.

Currently, the Celtics remain contenders to compete with the Heat in the Eastern Conference. The Chicago Bulls are waiting for point guard Derrick Rose to return from his torn ACL that he suffered in Game 1 of the Bulls’ Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Other contenders include the 76ers who added center Andrew Bynum. The Indiana Pacers are looking to build on their trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals while the New York Knicks have Carmelo Anthony and A’mare Stoudemire for support. The Brooklyn Nets traded for Joe Johnson to pair with point guard Deron Williams to bolster their odds.

Perhaps if Terry can play as well as he did in Dallas, he can fulfill his prediction that the Celtics will be celebrating their 18th championship in 2013.

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