Wednesday’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics is a homecoming of sorts for Jason Terry. Never mind that the game will be held in Boston, and that the Mavericks roster barely resembles the team that beat the Miami Heat for the NBA Championship two seasons ago. Terry is going up against his old mates, and there has to be some emotional connection, Dirk Nowitzki’s injury be damned. He claims that he’s move past all of that, but you know there has to be a small bit of nostalgia involved.
But as the old saying goes, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, and Danny Ainge pulled off a small coup in bringing Terry to Boston. You don’t find these type of battle hardened veterans with nerves of steel just anywhere. Especially not the ones who bring a valued commodity to the table, like a knack for knocking down huge shots with the clock winding down.
Yes, Terry’s decision to sign with the Celtics proved to be huge, because it’s highly unlikely that Ray Allen would have remained in Boston under any circumstance. But it hasn’t been all smooth going for Terry early in the season. Avery Bradley’s shoulder surgery, coupled with Doc Rivers’ roster juggling, has landed Terry in the starting lineup alongside Rajon Rondo. Not that Terry can’t handle it, because he can. It’s just that he’s no longer a twenty-something player in the prime of his NBA life. He’s playing the back nine, and while the clubhouse is still off in the distance, he’s starting to sense its presence.
As evidenced in Dallas, Terry’s best role is that of Sixth Man. It’s a role that the Celtics carved out for him, and there’s a good chance Terry will be back to doing what he does best as soon as Bradley is up to speed. Until then, Terry will likely continue to start. With that said, what do we know about Terry to this point in the season? What has he done, 20 games in, from a purely statistical standpoint?
Terry’s career three-point shooting percentage is 38%. He’s shooting 37.6% as a Boston Celtic. If it feels like he’s shooting a lower percentage from behind the line, maybe it’s because he’s turned in a couple of clunkers early in the season. He was 1-of-5 from downtown against Chicago, 1-4 against Orlando and 1-7 against Philadelphia last Friday. Not exactly the type of three point shooting performances we’re used to seeing from Terry.
And while he’s had his struggles from behind the arc, his overall field goal percentage is actually up this season versus his career average, 46% this season against 44.8%. The same goes for his free throw shooting – 86% this season versus 84.6% for his career.
The big difference, purely from a statistical perspective, is what he’s done in the assist / rebound / steal categories. His numbers are down across the board versus his career averages. And, alarmingly, these numbers are also down when compared to his time spent in a Mavericks uniform – and coming off the bench as the team’s sixth man.
Maybe playing his ex-teammates will mean a more active, aggressive Jason Terry. Maybe he’ll ball hard on Wednesday – it is a nationally televised game, after all – and maybe he’ll make us once again forget about the loss of Ray Allen and the delayed return of Avery Bradley.
Let’s hope that’s the case. After this home game against the Mavs, our Celtics hit the road with games against the Bulls, Rockets and Spurs on tap.
We need the old Jason Terry doing his thing if we’re going to get through this stretch with a winning record.