BOSTON — Jason Terry was due for a game like this.
He has been too good a shooter for too long to not have a night or two down the stretch in which he isn't the best shooter on the floor for at least a couple minutes.
Terry's hot hand provided a much-needed lift for the Celtics who pulled away for a 118-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
And Terry was huge for the C's, tallying 24 points off the bench which included a 5-for-7 shooting performance on 3s.
With his second, 3-pointer made, Terry became just the fourth player in NBA history (Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Jason Kidd are the others) to make 1,900 3s.
Terry now has 1,903 made 3s in his career.
"Hard work, dedication, longevity ... just continue to work on my craft," Terry said.
Historically speaking it was a good night for Terry.
But more than that, Terry needed a game like this after what has been a regular season that even he acknowledges hasn't been what he was hoping for.
"That's the great thing about the playoffs," he told CSNNE.com prior to Friday's game. "You get to right the ship in the playoffs. That's exactly what I plan to do."
And it is performances like the one he put on Friday that give both the C's and Terry confidence that big-scoring games are indeed in his future.
This season, Terry has averaged just 10.1 points per game which is his lowest scoring average since he averaged 8.1 as a rookie during the 1999-2000 season.
But he's also averaging 27.3 minutes per game, which is the fewest minutes he has played since - you got it! - his rookie season when he averaged 23.3 minutes per game.
Seeing him step his game up this time of year is no surprise to fellow veterans like Paul Pierce.
"He knows that the playoffs are right around the corner so he's really picked up his production, he's picked up his shooting," Pierce said. "He's being a lot more aggressive for us and we're going to need that bench scoring in the playoffs. He's just a veteran who's been there - around the block a few times and he understands the moments and that time is winding down, getting ready for the playoffs."
Along with a red-hot night from Terry, here are some other factors outlined before the game, and how they played out for the C's.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Making this a high-scoring affair should benefit the Celtics, especially against an Atlanta Hawks team whose defense is starting to show some signs of cracking. Opponents have shot 44.9 percent against the Hawks this season. But in the month of March, opponents have connected on 45.7 percent of its shots which has been a factor in the Hawks' 7-9 record this month.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston made this more of a track meet than the Hawks would have liked, and the result was exactly what the Celtics were looking for. The 118 points were the most scored by the C's all season, and that includes 11 games that went at least one overtime period.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs Al Horford: Coming off a season-high 22 points at Cleveland, the light bulb seems to have finally lit up for Bass in terms of what he needs to bring to the floor on a nightly basis. But Horford is an all-star that, like Bass, is playing out of position at center.
WHAT WE SAW: Bass (13 points, three blocked shots) came away with the win by default with Horford sitting out this game because of a stomach flu. Although Bass only grabbed two rebounds, the C's still kept the rebounding game relatively close as the Hawks edged them on the boards, 40-37.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Avery Bradley continues to struggle with his shot, but more discouraging has been signs that his rock-solid defense has shown some slippage of late as well. He's still the C's best defender, but hasn't come through with as many game-changing plays recently. That has to change, both for him and the Celtics to have success.
WHAT WE SAW: Bradley didn't have a huge game (8 points, 3-for-7 shooting), but he looked a lot more confident in Friday's win courtesy of a couple of good outlet passes from Paul Pierce that led to easy lay-ups for Bradley. "It was really important, get my confidence going," Bradley said. "I haven't been able to make any shots lately. But to see the ball go in the hoop, that's always good."
STAT TO TRACK: Boston has been really hit hard of late by the scoring of opposing benches. In the last five games, C's opponents have gotten an NBA-high 40.6 points per game from their reserves which includes two players (New York's J.R. Smith and Memphis' Jerryd Bayless) cracking the 30-point plateau.
WHAT WE SAW: Although Boston's bench was outscored 60-49, there was no doubt that the C's second unit had a greater impact on the game's outcome. Terry's 24 points along with Shavlik Randolph's near double-double of nine points and 13 rebounds, was huge. Boston also got four assists from Jordan Crawford and a pair of emphatic dunks by Terrence Williams that got the crowd involved. All in all, the C's second unit did their jobs which more than anything else, is to make a positive impact on the game's outcome.