Terry sets tone with defense

Terry sets tone with defense
March 9, 2013, 1:15 am
Share This Post

BOSTON — The final seconds of Boston's 107-102 overtime win against Atlanta had the ball in Jason Terry's hands.

His game-winning 3-pointer followed by a pair of free throws in the final 35 seconds of overtime was indeed critical to the C's victory.

But Terry's game on Friday was about more than delivering dagger 3s and game-ending free throws.

Lost in the 19 point effort off the bench, was some pretty good defense played by Terry against one of the game's best shooters, Kyle Korver.

Terry was determined to not allow Korver to shred the Celtics defense the way he did in January in helping the Hawks rally from a 27-point deficit to beat the C's, 123-111 in double overtime. Korver had 27 points in that game which included 8 3-pointers which all came in the second half.

It was clear that the C's defense wasn't going to allow that to happen, with Terry's defense setting the tone.

"He was like glue," said C's coach Doc Rivers in describing Terry's defense on Korver. "He just stayed on him, took away his shots."

Korver finished with three points on 1-for-5 shooting.

"I took the challenge very personally," Terry said of defending Korver. "Last time he was the difference in that game. He scored 20-something points in a half. We take that very personally. Our identity is defense-first. They put the onus on myself to stay with him and make it tough on him and I was able to do so."

But what has made Terry a solid player for so many years has been his ability to play well off of others.

In Dallas, Terry and Dirk Nowitzki would crush teams with their pick-and-pop game. And when they had Jason Kidd running the point, Kidd and Nowitzki's pick-and-roll action would often result in defenses scrambling to the point where someone was left open.

Often that player was Terry.

His game-winning shot on Friday was an example of just how effective Terry can be when it comes to playing off of others.

Paul Pierce's ability to drive into the lane and draw a crowd, led to Terry getting a wide open 3-pointer that he drained that put the C's ahead 105-102 in overtime.

And after an Atlanta turnover, Terry wisely got Korver off his feet with a ball fake, drew the foul and went to the free throw line where he made a pair of free throws to seal the victory with 9.9 seconds to play.

Terry said there are similarities between the way he plays off of Pierce and the way he used to play off Nowitzki.

"You put him (Pierce) in the class with Dirk, (Kevin) Durant, Kobe (Bryant) ... they're deadly scorers," Terry said. "They're going to draw a lot of attention. And as a scorer myself, the best thing I can do to get open is set a screen. You set a screen, make your man help. Nine times out of 10 you're going to be the man left open if you set a good one."

And while Terry was deserving of the praise he received for a job well done defensively on Korver, his imprints can also be found on the Celtics zone defense which they have used a lot more lately than earlier this season.

The Mavericks played an extensive amount of zone defense while Terry was there, which makes him a bit of a resident expert.

Celtics assistant coach Kevin Eastman has been the architect behind Boston's zone defense, and has picked Terry's brain on the zone from time to time.

"It's a different zone than it was in Dallas, more of a match-up zone here," Terry said. "But it's all about team and our team concept is to help. In the zone, you're able to do so."

And Terry has indeed been a help to the Celtics as they continue to find ways to win despite key players suffering season-ending injuries.

"Jason really stepped up," Pierce said. "We count on him late in games even if he doesn't get the shot. He's such a threat late in games that y9ou can't come off of him. He's hit so many big shots throughout his career; he understands the moment and that's why he's here."