He also knows he can’t miss them all, either, no matter how much he tested that theory on Friday.
“After maybe the third shot, I was like, what’s going on out here?” Terry said following his 1-for-15 shooting performance the loss to the Bucks. “Then I had a good look in overtime and, man, that’s my bread and butter — baseline jump shot — didn’t go in. At that point, if I get another one I’m thinking it’s got to go. If there was 10 more minutes in that game, I’m thinking I’m going 10 for 10. That’s just my mindset.”
In that case, it could be said that Terry ran out of time, because he never rediscovered his stroke against Milwaukee despite five minutes of free basketball. Through 26 games, Terry has had an up-and-down first season as a Celtic, fending off sure defeats at times and clanking his way to frustrating losses at others.
Terry’s 43 percent mark from the field is his second-lowest percentage in the last nine years, and he is taking his fewest shots per game since his rookie season. Prior to Friday’s outing, the last time Terry had as many attempts in a game with only one basket was a 1-for-12 effort in Philadelphia on Dec. 7. In his full eight-year tenure with Dallas, Terry had only one game where he had double-digit attempts and only one make — a 1-for-10 showing against Miami last March.
The Celtics have not lost faith in the 35-year-old marksman, who is fourth all-time in 3-pointers made and attempted. Jared Sullinger‘s face twisted into an incredulous expression when he was asked if he would expect — or want — Terry to hesitate the next time he had an open shot.
“JT’s not going to stop shooting,” Sullinger said. “I mean, it happens to the best of them. Even the best shooters have bad shooting days. We’re not going to stop our confidence in JT. We’re going to keep letting him shoot.”
In many respects, Terry is doing exactly what the Celtics want him to do. His 37 percent shooting from downtown is right in line with his career mark, and while his total shots are down, he continues to fire away from deep. Terry is taking 4.7 threes per game, according to HoopData, down from 5.8 threes per game last season. By comparison, his attempts from 10-to-15 feet have been more than cut in half to 0.7 attempts per game from 1.6 attempts per game last season and 1.7 per game the year before.
That breakdown might look promising to a numbers-centric observer who believes mid-range shots are the bane of existence. (Since many good shooters hit threes and mid-to-long twos at about the same percentage, the argument goes that threes are better shots on balance because they garner an extra point.) Yet for Terry, and for many other players as well, those midrange shots provide an immeasurable benefit.
Terry’s ability to put the ball on the floor and drill a pull-up jumper is one of his most dangerous weapons against defenders trying to close out on him beyond the arc. If the defender is worried Terry might blow by him, his split-second of hesitation could be all the opening Terry needs to drain a three. In addition, seeing the ball go through the net, no matter where the shot is taken, can give a shooter a psychological boost.
Terry, who has taken close to 14,000 shots in his career, knows this better than anyone. While he insisted he would not quit shooting, he did allow that he might change the nature of a few of his looks. He might look for more midrange jumpers, he said, or even take the ball straight to the rack for the most high-percentage shot of all: a layup, with the possibility of getting fouled.
Shooting comes and goes, especially for a volume shooter like Terry. Do not be surprised if, one of these games, he actually does hit them all.
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