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Jason Terry Is Still Figuring Some of His Stuff Out

 

For most of last night, Boston’s offense was humming like Crash Test Dummies. An offensive rating of 113.2 against a top-three defense? Thank you sir, may I have another! (That’s from The Animals House).

But there was still one unsettling hitch in the offense, one that could emerge as an issue throughout this new season. It showed up when Jason Terry played alongside Rajon Rondo.

Terry and Rondo shared the court for about 21 minutes last night. When they were on the floor together, Terry did what the nation expected of him and stashed himself in the corner, waiting in case anyone wanted him to shoot a three. Most of Terry’s offensive possessions when Rondo’s on the floor this season are going to look like this:

Like, exactly like that. Including the missing. Jason Terry’s overall 3-point percentage last season was 37.8: definitely a good shade below Ray Allen’s stupid 45.3, but serviceable. But in spot-up situations like those above, Terry’s percentage sags to 31.9. That makes him, as Allens go, more of a Tony.

Those numbers bring out two conclusions: 1) Jason Terry’s still a buttery scorer off the dribble, and 2) he’s probably not going to be as useful as Ray was in a Rondo-led offense.

Some overlap between Terry and Rondo’s abilities is not a surprise. Terry’s real value has always come when he’s the best offensive player on the floor, bringing the ball up and finding space for himself and himself alone, protecting the ball from both defenders and his own teammates. His assist rate was a titch below Paul Pierce’s last year. That’s how he produces. It looks like this:

Possessions like that are a blast when the alternatives are Jeff Green back-rimming a three or Jared Sullinger backing down somebody four inches taller than he is. But you’re not going to see much of those Terry possessions when Rondo’s out there, and Terry only got four minutes of floor time without Rondo last night. That’s not an anomaly: Rondo plays heavy minutes in important games and will continue to do so. So Terry’s stuck with a less-than-ideal role as a spot-up guy for the majority of his time on offense, and he can’t really afford a huge decline his shooting efficiency because he’s not a good defender.

I’m not sure what the solution is to maximize Terry’s value as he plays with Rondo. They may develop a few set plays where Terry and his teammates move off the ball to get him a mismatch, then Rondo finds him and lets him go to work: he still kills bigger, slower defenders from the perimeter. But Rondo’s game isn’t exactly finding his teammates in places for them to dribble around for ten seconds. And whenever Terry’s creating a shot among the starters, he represents something of a redundancy, because Paul Pierce is still Terry’s superior as a creator. If somebody’s going to be called on to produce offense out of nowhere, I’d prefer it be Pierce to Terry.

Terry’s best use, for now, is probably just keeping Boston in games when Doc wants to limit his starters’ minutes: he could bench Paul and Rondo for long stretches and still have a true scorer on the floor, one operating in his ideal capacity. But those moments will be fewer in spotlight games like last night’s and the playoffs, which means Doc’s going to have to find a role for Terry that extends beyond regular season schedule filler.

  • Phil

    I wasn't aware that Terry was a terrible spot up shooter, that's definitely something to watch going forward. I've got faith in Doc figuring something out though, and in the meantime, Terry should be able to contribute a lot more against the Milwaukees of the world rather than the Miamis.

  • High Rollers

    Hmm… you have a good and distressing point there. However, didn't we solve a lot of problems with one Avery Bradley by emphasizing cuts? Seems like everybody who can't get it done with Rondo otherwise needs to learn to be a cutter. Even the Truth has had to make that sort of adjustment. And it's definitely where JG is going to have to rediscover his verve. Playing with Rondo means having to go to work at Cuts 'R Us. Get the ball to 9, haul arse baseline, be sneaky and serpentine (cough, #20) about it, extra pass, and you'll be rewarded with two more fat points and/or and-1s in YOUR OWN COLUMN. It's like magic.

    By the way, I noticed Ray trying to drive home his complaint last night. He was making it a point to do a little mini-creating on his own time after time. There's a lot of fool's gold to go around.

  • High Rollers

    AB can't get back soon enough. For continuity purposes.

  • cjkasino

    Fools gold exactly…i can’t count how many times that i think ray ray would shoot the lights out then go Ofer the remainder of the evening…smh…so the miami fans had better tivo’d , dvr’d, and recorded the game last night because traitor allen ….and rashard lewis WILL not shoot like that again especially ray except for the freethrows those will keep falling…go Celtics

  • Sophomore

    Yup. Ray started out gangbusters for us last year, too. Look how that turned out.

    • CelticsBIG3

      His ankles simply can't hold up. If Eddie Lacerte who is probably the best athletic trainer in the league couldn't keep him going, no one can.

      • Phil

        Were the Suns contracted and I didn't hear about it? They haven't found a player injury prone enough to stump them yet. I fully expect Jermaine O'Neal to play 80 games this year; that's how ridiculous their training staff is.

        • CelticsBIG3

          Ahh yes the Suns. Look at JO's stats from last night. He was as largely worthless for them last night as he ever was for us. He might play 80 games but he's still going to be useless.

  • elroz

    Terry must be the offensive 1st option off the bench…when the bench guys are on the floor – that is a no brainer. And that's when Rondo should be getting some rest and Terry being selfish – and Doc MUST make sure that's how Terry utilized…he should be the priority on offense over Green. Terry and Barbossa together as an off-the-bench backcourt is what needs to happen…no offense to Jeff Green, but right now Terry and Barbossa are the more proven and solid scorers and should the option. Terry must be selfish and Doc must emphasize that – otherwise, why did we get Terry? Use him smart!

  • elroz

    Who needs that standing at the corner? Terry must use the pick, penetrate, make the defense work, then knock down his jumper – he can do that when he is half asleep and Doc must use that.

  • jr9901

    It's more than a little narrow-sighted to see Terry only standing around in corners when RR's on the floor. As others have said, there's plenty he can do to get open, find seams, cut, pop, etc. I.e., play the game of basketball. Much ado about nothin here.

  • cb milo

    we need 5 larry birds play tiill you drop

  • Brian

    Terry needs to handle the ball more when he comes into the game with Rondo. I saw Harden and Lin work well together last night because they both took turns alternating between being the primary ballhandler and then playing off the ball. Integrating Rondo,Terry,Lee,Barbosa and Bradley together and figuring out what to run depending on the combinations will be a season long process. The Offense will have to switch up and do more things with Rondo off the ball.

  • big"D"®

    I see the point but like Doc said, the week long preparation may have backfired and everyone was thinking to much and not enough spontaneous intuition was used to play the game. That said, Terry's stats, like everyones stats, do not tell the complete story. It may be that JET isn't statistically a great spot-up shooter. However, he is a great clutch shooter. Ray Allen may have him beat statistically but Ray's clutch shooting in big "important" games is non existent.

    People always bring up many of Ray game winning heroics and to them I am "ALWAYS" able to say, yes but it was a game that didn't really matter because when the real pressure is on, Ray chokes. One of the top replies to my statement of Ray's non-clutch moments is his NBA record for three's in a finals game. He was the first to hit 8 in a game. But the stat is for him not his team or his fans because the stat doesn't go on to explain that Ray missed his next 8 or 10, 3's and ended up with like 3 for 18 in the rest of the series, and the Celts lost in part due to Ray not showing up… And Perk going out in game six… If Larry Bird was there and they lost Parish, Larry Bird would have come undone. He would have been unstoppable…

    On the flip side, I haven't yet looked, and am going on memory here, but Jason Terry seems to have had some MONSTER 4th quarters in some big games. If my memory serves me right, his spot up shooting was spot on in those games. Jason Terry has a similar "Bird" instinct when the "big" game is on the line.

    Like Doc Rivers realization that they over prepared and overwhelmed everyone with way to much information, this was the first game of a long season. I was relieved that the Celts lost really. I don't want them confident yet. It's to easy to get to confident, then complacent. The Celtics need to spend much time exploring their opportunities. I feel confident that 25 or 30 games in, the Celts will start getting it together.

    They're extremely dynamic. It's gonna take a while to see what they can do. This is Danny's 2.0 version of a potential championship contender. Danny has one of the most dynamic and competitive sports minds on the planet. I see what he's trying to do and I think he's on to something. Ya know, Danny Ainge is "the only person" to be a high school first team All-American in football, basketball, and baseball. The guy knows sports. And Jason Terry will rain spot up three's that far exceed his "regular stats" when called upon in big games, don't you worry…

    big"D"®

  • http://twitter.com/romy_nehme @romy_nehme

    Terry shot 51 percent from the floor and was 69.2 percent (18-of-26) on 3-pointers in the preseason. Admittedly that was the pre-season, which means that more of Terry's PT came when Rondo was sitting, but I don't think we can assume that most of Terry's shots will look like the one in the video you posted. How many times did the Celtics offense stagnate last season with no ballhandler on the floor to create his own shot as the shotclock wound down? That's where the Celtics will go to Terry. Not to be forgotten, Terry has a way of elevating his game in the playoffs. In the past 3 postseasons, he shot it at a 45% clip from long distance. Also, Ray Allen would have been the 6th man this season; Allen was awful without Rondo on the floor when left to his own devices (which is precisely where Terry will thrive). There are going to be growing pains — I agree Terry was lost in the shuffle in the season opener, but there's a lot to look forward to.

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