The influences who shaped Jason Terry's career

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The influences who shaped Jason Terry's career

Jason Terry: The Creation of a Leader

Jason Terry wasted no time throwing himself into the Boston Celtics culture after signing with the team in July. He tattooed Lucky the Leprechaun with a championship trophy. He declared his mission to kill the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. When asked to compare his role to that of former Celtic-turned-foe Ray Allen, Terry simply replied, Who?

Terry is the new leader of the Celtics bench. In past years, the group had included reserves who wanted to be starters and rookies who didnt want to listen. Not under Terrys guard. The former Sixth Man of the Year and 2011 NBA Champion has the second and third units under close watch in his first season in green.

Push the starters, thats our job, Terry told CSNNE.com. Our job is to make them better and make it game-like every time we step on the floor. We want it to be even tougher than the game is.

He continued with a laugh, Theyre young, so theyre going to do whatever I say anyways. If I tell them jump on one leg, bark like a dog, theyre going to do it. But what I do is lead by example. I have to make sure Im right every day, make sure Im early, make sure Im in tune with whats going on, and then direct them with my voice.

Terry leads with the experiences and advice he has gathered over the past 35 years. From coaches to former players to, most importantly, his mother, each person who led him in the right direction has influenced the leader he will be on the Celtics this season.

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Influence: Mother, Andrea Cheatham

The days and nights were long for Andrea Cheatham. A single mother of 10, she drove a city bus to support her family in Seattle. Back home, Terry, the second oldest, stepped into a leadership role to help raise his brothers and sisters. Feeding, dressing, and getting them off to school, he learned about accountability at a young age.

"Mom is the hugest influence on me growing up just because I saw what she had to endure," Terry said. "I had to have huge responsibilities. But what she was doing was preparing me for when I had my own family and being the head of my family."

Terry learned about unwavering perseverance from his mother. She lost her oldest child, Dele, when he was only two months old. Years later, a tragic accident stole her two-year-old son Caleb during a family picnic after he wandered down to the lake and drowned. Terry, then 12, found his brother.

I walked back by and I just saw his body floating, he recalled. I think about him every day, every day. Its just a situation where I knew that kid was going to be something. He was already a little athlete, running around. He would follow me, so it was tough."

Terry tattooed Caleb and Dele's names down his arms in remembrance. His mother's strength is also permanently imprinted on his mind.

Said Terry, "Watching her struggles and then watching her be strong and still being able to survive is whats given me inner strength to carry on."

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Influence: High School Basketball Coach, Lou Hobson

There are talented teenagers who spurn the advice of their coaches. Then there are others who soak up words of wisdom from their elders. Terry was the latter.

As a student athlete at Franklin High School, he lingered over the advice of his coach Lou Hobson. Terry wasn't as highly recruited as other NBA players but he shared the same goal of making it in the pros. He plugged away, practice by practice, game by game, drawing interest from schools including the University of Washington and the University of Arizona, where he played college basketball.

"His motto was, The road to success is always under construction," Terry said of Hobson. "That just told me to keep working every day regardless of the outcome knowing that you can get better. Even when youve seemingly got to the top, theres still another step to go to."

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Influence: Former NBA Player, Gary Payton

Terry grew up in Seattle mesmerized by the SuperSonics. Of all the players on the team, fellow guard Gary Payton captured his attention.

Terry looked up to the nine-time All-Star. After watching him as a spectator for years, he became Payton's counterpart when he entered the league in 1999 while Payton was still a member of his hometown team. The two developed a strong relationship as Terry made his way up in the NBA.

"Gary Payton was one of my first role models," Terry explained. "I used to watch him when I was a young kid in high school and we formed a bond and we would just talk throughout the season. He would watch me, I would be watching him, and we would call each other and reflect on what transpired out there in the game."

Payton retired in 2007. By that point Terry had finished his eighth NBA season and was well on his way to a career that would later include a Sixth Man of the Year Award and NBA Championship with the Dallas Mavericks. Payton's mentorship served as one of the foundations for Terry's success, a relationship he is paying forward to younger players on the Celtics.

"He was tremendous for me," said Terry.

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Influence: NBA Coach, Avery Johnson

After competing as fellow players, Avery Johnson coached Terry for over three seasons on the Mavericks. He saw Terry's potential as a team leader and encouraged him to step further into the role in spite of its challenges.

"After (me) being in the league for five years, he took me aside and was like, Look, if youre going to play this position, you have to be more vocal and lead by example,'" Terry recounted.

Terry felt frustrated when he teammates didn't always listen, but he believed in Johnson's belief in him. Determined to make an impact, he stuck with his coach's advice.

"He (Johnson) knew I was a killer," said Terry. "He knew my competitive fire and my ability to learn. I was very coachable, receptive, and I watched a lot of film. I think he saw that in me and knew that I could take my game to another level."

The nights of frustration lessened over time and Terry emerged as a leader on the court and in the locker room, a role players around the league respect today.

"It was a process," said Terry, "But he got me there."

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Now entering his 14th season in the NBA, Terry is taking everything he has learned from his role models and mentors over the years and sharing it as the leader of the Celtics bench. He views the team as a family, eager to form the types of bonds and relationships that have served as such strong influences in his career with veterans and rookies alike.

"Its about being together, especially when youre going after one common goal," he said. "And we know what that goal is."

Celtics set to face a number of potential first-round foes

Celtics set to face a number of potential first-round foes

BOSTON – Beating the Indiana Pacers 109-100 on Wednesday was about more than padding the win column while improving their position near the top of the East standings.

It was also a potential preview of who they might face in the first round of the playoffs, a scenario that will play itself out several times in the Celtics’ last 10 games of the regular season.

In fact, five of Boston’s remaining games (Miami, Milwaukee twice, Atlanta and Charlotte) are against teams that are likely to be the pool of potential first-round foes that the Celtics will face next month.

And of those five games, three (Miami and Milwaukee twice) will be at the TD Garden which has given rise to optimism that the Celtics can finish the season strong enough to potentially catch the Cleveland Cavaliers for the overall top seed in the East.

Boston’s win over Indiana coupled with Cleveland’s 126-113 loss at Denver moves the Celtics within 1.0 game of the Cavs.

“It’s going to be good for us,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley, referring to playing potential playoff foes to close out the regular season. “Every team is playing hard right now and it’s our job to continue to keep playing the right way and trying to prepare for the playoffs.”

The Celtics did just that on Wednesday against the Pacers, establishing a defensive presence early on that soon morphed into solid play offensively that enabled Boston (46-26) to emerge victorious for the fifth time in their last six games.

And doing so against a potential playoff opponent made the victory that much sweeter.

“It’s very important,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “Every win is big, every game is big. But especially against those teams we might end up facing (in the playoffs). We have to control what we can control, especially at home. We have to take care of business.”

Wednesday’s victory was the latest success story at home for Boston which has won 12 of its last 13 at the TD Garden.

But as well as they have played, the Celtics have left themselves plenty of room for improvement.

They came into Wednesday’s game averaging 13.2 turnovers per game which would be a franchise-low if they can maintain that through these last 10 games.

But on Wednesday, they had 14 turnovers by halftime.

“There were moments in the first half where we were careless,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “And then there were moments that it was just like one of those nights where for whatever reason we missed a few catches, we missed a few, probably, easy passes. For whatever reason those nights happen.”

But the Celtics were a completely different team in terms of turnovers in the second half, courtesy of a stern tongue-lashing by Stevens.

The second-half turnaround by Boston turning the ball over – they only had three in the second half – shows both the potential problems and the promise of figuring it out on the fly that makes this Celtics team one to watch come playoff time.

“We’re almost there,” Bradley said. “We’re close.”

Stars, studs and duds: Stevens' strategy key to win vs. Pacers

Stars, studs and duds: Stevens' strategy key to win vs. Pacers

BOSTON – For as long as the Boston Celtics have been winning under Brad Stevens, the team’s depth has been critical to that success.

It affords him the luxury to throw wave after wave after wave at opponents, a tried and true strategy of wearing teams down over time.

But there are times when head coach Brad Stevens will look to match his depth with certain matchups, and that at times results in more players watching from the bench … all night.

That was indeed the case on Wednesday night against Indiana, but you can’t knock the game plan considering how crucial that strategy would be to Boston pulling away for a 109-100 win over the Pacers.

Rotation regulars Terry Rozier and Jonas Jerebko did not play (coaches decision), as did Gerald Green whose status has fluctuated in and out of the rotation most of this season.

Stevens said the decision to shorten the player rotation was purely about matching up best with a physical Pacers team which is why 7-foot center Tyler Zeller saw more action than usual.

“This team was bigger,” Stevens said following the win. “The rebounding was a scary thing. Obviously, they hurt us on the glass big-time in the second half and I wanted a little bit more size.”

Having the ability to go deep into the bench and cater the rotation to a specific opponent is a luxury few NBA teams have at their disposal.

“We’re deep. We’ve been deep since I’ve been here,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “That’s one of the strengths but it’s also … it’s tough for Brad. You obviously want to play everybody and he can’t.”

Stevens knows all too well that the players that did not see action on Wednesday, aren’t happy about not playing.

But to their credit, each of them has been down this road before and while disappointed, they continue to prepare as though they will play the next time out.

“And I respect that,” Stevens said. “And that’s hard. But we’re going to need all those guys and we’re going to need them to be playing great.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday’s game between Boston and Indiana.

 

STARS

Paul George

It was another dominant scoring night for George who reminded us all that he was indeed the best player on the floor. He led all scorers with 37 points on 11-for-26 shooting with five rebounds and three steals.

Isaiah Thomas

The contributions of others is allowing Thomas to play more manageable minutes and just as important, rest for long stretches in the fourth quarter. He still managed to lead the Celtics with 25 points on 9-for-21 shooting with five assists, a steal and a blocked shot.

 

STUDS

Jeff Teague

Isaiah Thomas had problems early on keeping up with Teague, and that seemed to be just what Teague needed to get going and frankly, not slow down. He had 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting with six assists and a steal.

Avery Bradley

One of the triumvirate of defenders used by Boston on Paul George, Bradley had 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting with eight rebounds and two assists.

Kelly Olynyk

The big nights for Olynyk are starting to become the rule and not so much the exception. He had a near double-double with 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting to go with eight rebounds and four assists.

Tyler Zeller

Six points and three rebounds may not seem like that big a deal. But Zeller’s play once again, even in limited spurts, was one of the keys to Boston coming away with the win. Despite playing fewer minutes than any Celtic off the bench, he had a plus/minus of +8 which was second among reserves only to Kelly Olynyk (+12).

 

DUDS

Celtics turnovers

Boston did a much better job at limiting turnovers in the second half, but the damage had already been done with 14 – that’s more than their season average of 13.2 – in the first half.

Celtics defensive boards

Boston was very fortunate that second-chance points didn’t become a bigger factor considering the Pacers had 18 offensive rebounds but only got 15 second-chance points compared to the Celtics who grabbed 10 offensive rebounds which led to 12 second-chance points.