Jason Terry hasn’t been shy about mentioning how much he loves the new spread offense the Celtics are running. You can say that’s a shot at Rondo for how he had been playing or at Doc for the offense he’d installed… but the fact remains, Terry is thriving.
And in this wild week of “We’re better off without Rondo” vs. “We’re not better off without him,” Terry has been one of the poster boys for the anti-Rondo argument.
But why is Jason Terry on fire lately? Why is he shooting 14 of 22, including 5-11 from 3, over the past 3 games? The theory is he’s getting better touches in better spots. So let’s take a look at every one of those 22 shots and see.
(Note: I’m not counting the Miami game as they had prepared for the game with Rondo, and got late word they’d be without him. Besides, Terry shot 4-12 in that game including 1-7 from 3. This is an analysis of the “new” offense, and Terry’s 3 game burst.)
Game 1: January 30. Celtics 99 – Kings 81.
Terry’s line: 12 pts, 5-7 fg (2-3 3pt).
Shot 1: 2:23, 1st quarter. Made 15 footer from right baseline.
Avery Bradley is the ball handler. He is pressured just over half court and he whips a high pass to Terry at the right wing. His defender goes for the steal. Terry takes one dribble to the right baseline and nails the jumper.
Shot 2: :31, 1st quarter. Missed 4-foot floater.
Terry starts the play off as the ball handler. He gets a staggered double screen which he uses to get to the right elbow. He swings a pass over to Brandon Bass at the left elbow. Bass drops it to Wilcox on the block who gets it right back to Terry, now on the left wing. Wilcox comes up to set a pick and Terry splits the defenders to get into the lane. He puts up a floater that is challenged just outside of the semi-circle and misses.
Shot 3: 7:22, 2nd quarter. Made 3 from top of the key
Terry is the ball handler and he plays pick and roll with Pierce at the top of the key. The defender goes under the screen (why, on Terry, you go under the screen… I don’t know), and JET pulls up for 3 about 2 steps to the right of the top of the key.
Shot 4: 6:39, 2nd quarter. Made 15 foot jumper
Pierce and Terry play pick and roll with Terry as the ball handler at the right wing. Terry gets around the pick and swings a pass over Brandon Bass, who is to steps inside the three point line on the left wing. Bass dribbles down to the post, drawing 2 defenders. Terry runs up the left baseline and gets the catch-and-shoot jumper.
Shot 5: 4:46, 2nd quarter. Made lay up
Paul Pierce hands off to Brandon Bass at the left elbow. Bass finds Terry on the right wing. Terry up-fakes Tyreke Evans, who goes for it. He takes 2 dribbles and gets an uncontested lane to the hoop as no one rotates over.
Shot 6: 2:57, 3rd quarter. Made corner 3
Jeff Green has the ball at the top of the key. Leandro Barbosa comes off a screen on the left block from Jason Collins. Barbosa gets the ball on the left wing, but Terry’s man is lost. He goes to the corner, gets the pass from Barbosa for the catch-and-shoot corner 3.
Shot 7: 1o:55, 4th quarter. Missed 3 from right wing
Barbosa sets up at the top of the key. Terry uses a Garnett screen to get the ball at the right wing. Jimmer Fredette catches up to him. Terry up-fakes, takes one dribble right and takes a contested 3 and misses.
Verdict: Terry has one play where he makes the shot as the primary ball handler in a pick-and-roll… which is what people have been noting is how he played in Dallas. He had two catch-and-shoot makes, and one that was just an escape dribble off the catch… nothing that he hasn’t been taking all year long. This game appears to be about 80% Terry making shots he’s gotten all year long, sprinkled in with a classic Terry pick-and-roll play.
Game 2: February 1. Celtics 97-Magic 84.
Terry’s line: 12 pts, 4-8 fg (1-4 3pt), 3-3 ft.
Shot 1: 1:25, 1st quarter. Made 3 from right sideline
Courtney Lee starts as the ball handler as the C’s walk it up the court. Lee gets it to Green at the right wing who swings it over to Terry in front of the Celtics bench. Terry’s man is off him so he launches the 3 and makes it. I should note, Terry literally walked from half-court to his spot, caught and shot the ball.
Shot 2: :43.7, 1st quarter. Made 20 footer from left wing
Terry inbounds the ball from the baseline and lobs a pass up to Chris Wilcox a step in from the 3 point line after he’d set a pick for Barbosa. Barbosa loops around the left wing and uses a Terry screen on the baseline. Wilcox dribbles down and hands off to Terry who uses the hand-off screen to bury the jumper.
Shot 3: 2:34, 3rd quarter. Fast break lay up
Orlando botches a pick and roll as Gustavo Ayon can’t handle a low pass. Pierce picks up the loose ball at the top of the key and gets it ahead to Terry who finishes the break with a lay up.
Shot 4: 8:10 4th quarter. Missed 3 from top of the key
Terry rebounds an Orlando miss and pushes the ball up to Courtney Lee on the right side. Lee’s path is block and he dribbles back out to the corner, but finds Terry wide open behind the arc. When Terry shoots, the closest Orlando defender is at the free throw line, but he couldn’t connect from just right of the top of the key.
Shot 5: 6:41 4th quarter. Missed three from top of the key
The Celtics were in a half court set. Lee gets into trouble on the right wing and gives it up to Barbosa in the corner with 3.3 on the shot clock. Barbosa drives and finds Terry just to the left of the top of the key with 1.6 on the clock. There isn’t an Orlando defender in sight and he comfortably steps into a 3, but misses.
Shot 6: 4:35 4th quarter. Made jumper from left sideline
The Celtics set up in the half court again with Lee as the ball handler just to the right of the top of the key. They run a play where Terry sets a pick at the left block for Green. Brandon Bass picks Terry’s man and Terry flares out to the sideline. Lee skips a pass over to Terry who catches-and-shoots for 2. It would have been a 3 but his toe was on the line.
Shot 7: 3:56 4th quarter. Missed jumper from left elbow
Celtics jog it up and set up in the half court with Barbosa as the ball handler on the high right side. They get it to Lee at the top, while Terry starts at the left baseline. He gets a staggered screen from Green and Bass and curls around to the left elbow for a catch-and-shoot that misses.
Shot 8: 2:28 4th quarter. Missed 3 from left wing
Barbosa brings the ball up and Terry uses a double screen from Lee and Jason Collins to pop out to the left wing for a catch-and-shoot 3 attempt that misses.
Verdict: There was nothing in this performance that would suggest anything about “being free” with the offense. There was one fast-break opportunity that was caused by Orlando’s sloppiness. His first shot of the game was one where the ball was literally walked up the floor (a major complaint lately), and almost all the others came off set plays.
Game 3: February 3. Celtics 106-Clippers 104
Terry’s line: 13 pts, 5-7 fg (2-4 3pt) 1-1 FT.
Shot 1: 3:55 1st quarter. Made 3 from left wing
The Clippers turn the ball over and Brandon Bass leads the fast break. Bass crosses the free throw line, turns and finds Terry all alone at the left wing for a 3.
Shot 2: 11:38 2nd quarter. Missed left corner 3
The play starts as a side out for the Celtics. Terry runs the baseline and uses the Green screen to catch the ball at the left wing, but he gives it back up to Barbosa. He runs pick and roll with Wilcox, and Wilcox gets the ball deep under the basket. Terry’s man collapses, leaving Terry wide open in the left corner for a catch-and-shoot 3, which he misses.
Shot 3: 5:10 2nd quarter. Made left elbow jumper
This was a jumbled mess of broken plays. It started as a side out. I’ll pick it up with KG on the left block after getting the feed from Terry with 13 on the clock. He tries some moves and kicks it back to Terry with :11 left. Terry fakes, dribbles in to the left elbow and gives it up to Bass at the right elbow. Bass fakes, dribbles, and gives it back to Terry, now behind the 3 point line, with :07 left. Terry fakes, his man bites and flies past him, he takes 2 dribbles in and makes the J.
Shot 4: 3:31 2nd quarter. Made left wing 3
KG tips out a Clippers miss, which Bass gets at the top of the key. He turns and fires to Terry, who catches it just over half court, takes one dribble, and drills a transition 3 from the left wing.
Shot 5: 2:19 3rd quarter. Made floater in the lane
Paul Pierce jogs the ball up the court after a Clippers make and gives it up to Terry to set a half court offense just over half court. As Pierce comes up to set a screen, Terry beats his man left and gets to the middle of the lane very easily, where he makes a little 4-foot floater.
Shot 6: 1:10 4th quarter. Made right elbow jumper
Pierce walks the ball up and dribbles the clock down to :10 and then makes a move. KG sets a pick at the top of the key. KG uses it, gets around Matt Barnes and into the paint. He finds Terry at the left wing with :06 left on the shot clock. Terry gets a pick from KG, dribbles over to the right elbow and makes a contested fadeaway jumper with a second on the shot clock.
Shot 7: :42 4th quarter. Missed 3 from left sideline
Pierce brings the ball up after a Clippers make. KG goes up to set the pick just past the jump circle, but Pierce doesn’t use it. Instead, he beats his man left, draws the defense, and kicks it to Terry in front of the Clippers bench for a catch-and-shoot 3, which he misses.
Verdict: This more of the “free” stuff Terry was talking about. There are no set plays. There were a couple of transition 3’s in there. There were a couple of Pierce drive-and-kicks.
You’re not going to win a case in court that life without Rondo is truly benefiting Jason Terry with this evidence. Sure, you can build the circumstantial case over the past few games by trying to say A (Rondo’s injury) plus B (Terry’s play) equals C (IT’S ALL RONDO’S FAULT!). And Terry is sitting there telling you how much better he feels about freely roaming around in a spread offense… but the Orlando game had none of that and the Sacramento game had almost none. And we can have a nice, healthy debate on whether the Clippers would have turned the ball over as much as they did without Chris Paul if Rondo was in the line up.
To me, though, the key piece of evidence is the fact that in 22 shots since Terry got hot in the last 3 games, there was only one… ONE… pick-and-roll basket with him as the ball handler. That’s what so many people have been saying he’s been able to do… that he’s been able to play more of “his” game.
But, looking at all of these shots, it’s hard to truly make that argument. The simple fact is Terry is getting a lot of the same shots he’s been getting all season. Let’s look at the simple facts.
The 5-7 shooting games are nothing new. Those were his 3rd and 4th of the season. And he had a couple of 6-8 shooting games too, which were his two best shooting nights of the season. Rondo was on the floor for both of them (one of them was OKC, in which Rondo found him 4 times. The other was Phoenix, in which Rondo found him twice).
Per Synergy Sports, 31.9% of Terry’s shots are spot-up. 19.6% come off screens. 18.7% are in transition. 11.9% are as the pick-and-roll ball handler. Take a look at the breakdown of plays I just put up there… are there any wild variations in these numbers?
No. Most of them are spot-up shots. A few came off screens, a few came in transition.
He’s not getting more shots, either. He’s averaging 8.4 shots per game this season. In this burst, he’s taken 7, 8 and 7. He’s had 19 games this season with more shots than that.
The only thing he’s getting is a few more minutes a game. Literally. He’s averaging 28 mpg this season and in the 4 games without Rondo, he’s got two 30+ minute games, a 28 minute game, and a 22 minute game. (Add them all up, and they average 28, by the way)
It’s not that I don’t believe Jason Terry when he says he feels like he’s playing some kind of free-wheeling basketball that feels better. I’m betting he really thinks he is because he’s getting a couple of extra minutes.
But he’s getting the same shots. They’re just falling right now.