BOSTON — Jason Terry has had difficulty finding his niche so far in Boston, but no matter how inconsistent his scoring totals have been, the veteran guard has already made an impression on his new coach.
Terry dropped 17 points to lead all Celtics starters in Boston’s 96-78 victory over Portland on Friday. That came just one week after he was held to five points against Oklahoma City, in what has become a trend of injecting sub-par offensive nights into otherwise productive ones. The up-and-down nature of Terry’s offense is uncharacteristic for him. He had 10 single-digit scoring games all of last season. He already has five such games this season.
Yet Celtics coach Doc Rivers would not undo the deal last summer that put Terry in a green jersey.
“Jason Terry, he’s a lot like Kevin [Garnett] in a lot of ways; I think everybody should coach him once,” Rivers said. “He’s just a joy. He’s just fun. He plays hard, and I told this to the team: He should be our worst defender by far, yet when you watch the film he rarely shows up doing something bad defensively, because he’s so darn competitive. It’s a great lesson for some of our young guys.”
Rivers promised that combo guard Courtney Lee, a proven defender, would spend most of the time defensive Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard on Friday. For a large portion of the first half, though, Terry pressured the rookie point guard while Lee hung out covering Wesley Matthews, whose shot was off due to a strained ligament in his right thumb.
Nobody will ever accuse Terry of being an excellent defender, but he has been serviceable defensive player for the Celtics off of pure effort. Imagine how much fun Rivers will have once Terry starts getting comfortable on offense, too.