Celtics guard Jason Terry is keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com. In his second entry, Jason talks about why the Celtics' first victory of the season was a must-win, how fans need to be patient with this team and the reason he wore John Wall's shorts Friday night. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta.)
We got our first win of the season against Washington on Saturday night. I felt that for the most part we came out and executed our game plan and defensively we definitely played a lot better. I had said tonight was a must-win. The reason is when you play a team like Washington, which has had some injuries and might be short a man, you definitely want to win these games. These are the type of games you just have to win. I know the starting lineup was changed a little bit with Jared Sullinger starting and Brandon Bass coming off the bench, but really I didn't notice that much. Everyone who came into the game tonight was focused on our defensive coverages. I think that helped us to get out and transition for some easy baskets. But offensively we still have a ways to go, really on both ends on the court.
I was happy to contribute in our win with two free throws down the stretch. It's definitely in my DNA to make big shots, especially when the game is on the line, whether that's with free throws or making a play or an assist or a shot to win or tie the game -- that's just who I am. But right now, I'm still trying to get comfortable within the structure of the team. I'm a work in progress. I'm very optimistic. I know we have the making of a championship team. I know we have to continue to grow and there are going to be some speed bumps along the way.
The first two games were some of those speed bumps. It takes time to jell as a team. Preseason is one thing, but when you talk about regular-season basketball, we're competing at the highest level. We're playing against teams like Miami. The Heat are the champions, and the core of that team has been together and had two full seasons for the most part. They're going to know each other very well, while we're still trying to figure it out. We're going to struggle in a situation like that. I think we did struggle a little bit to start the season. But, like I said, we're very optimistic. We know our ceiling is very high with our expectations. We know if we continue to grow at a steady pace, then we'll be clicking at the right time, which is what we want.
As we move forward, in order to keep winning we have to execute our defensive game plan. Whether shots are going in or not, we have to come ready to execute our defensive strategies. Regardless of who we're playing, we have a system. We have to trust that system and go out and do it. Trust is something that is built. We're a team with a lot of new faces. A game like the one against the Wizards is a prime example: a game that we easily could have flitted away after getting out to a great lead. They fought back and that was a form of adversity. Adversity builds character, and that's how we build trust.
Some off-the-court items I wanted to share with everyone: In the locker room, I sit between Kevin Garnett and our rookie Jared Sullinger. KG likes to talk. He's very animated. He's like a big brother to me. Then the young brother, Sullinger, just shuts up and does whatever we tell him to do. If we need something, he gets it done. If we need batteries or if we need soap, he does whatever we need to do. He's our little handyman.
I have a pregame routine. Now, it depends on whether I have a good or bad game the day before. I'm very superstitious. I like to try to get on a regular routine in which I'm very consistent. Sometimes it consists of taking a shower, getting a massage and getting treatment before a game. If it's not a game on back-to-back nights, I'll go out and shoot with about 60 minutes on the clock before game time. If it is a back-to-back, like we had this weekend, I'll meditate at my locker at that same mark I would have gone out to shoot. Then I am ready to go.
My superstitions go way back. In college at Arizona, before our national championship game, Mike Bibby and I were so anxious to play in this game that we slept in our uniforms the night before. We were hoping it would make the game come quicker, because that's how nervous we were. We ended up winning the national championship the next night. I've stuck to that routine. Only now it's a little bit different: I sleep in the opposing team's game shorts before every game. For example, Friday night I slept in Washington Wizards shorts since we played them on Saturday. John Wall is a good friend of mine. So I had his shorts from last year. What I do is I will acquire a pair of game shorts from each team in the league. Actually, right now, I have every single team's game shorts.
You might be wondering how I got every team's game shorts. I have friends on more than 75 percent of the teams. But for those 25 percent of the teams I don't, a little $20 to a $100 bill here and there can get you a pair of game shorts from a locker room attendant. I can't name my sources, though, of course! So, yes, I've bribed a couple of guys.
My number has always been 31 up until this season. Thirty-one is just my favorite number. I wore it in high school. I said that like Baskin Robbins, I have 31 flavors to my game. That's why I did it. But now I'm No. 4. Since the number 31 is retired by the Celtics for Cedric Maxwell, I needed to come up with a new one. The reason I picked it is three plus one equals four, and I have four daughters as well. It was a family decision in picking the new number.
I wear a headband every game. The headband goes back to my third grade P.E. teacher. It's a tribute to the great Slick Watts, who played in the NBA for the Seattle SuperSonics. The Sonics were my hometown and favorite team growing up. I walked into the third grade and he was gym teacher. He had the headband on every day. Even though he was far retired from playing in the NBA, he still came every day with the headband on. We played basketball every single day.
I want to say something about Hurricane Sandy. I have friends and family who were in New York and New Jersey who were affected. I wish them and everyone a speedy recovery. The hurricane might be gone, but we still need to make sure everyone is safe. We're here to support them in any way we can. Every time we step out onto the floor, our heart is with them. We're always thinking of them. Our prayers go out to the families that have been affected and the loved ones who have been lost.
I'm going to wrap up this diary with a plea to the fans: I'm happy we got our first win of the season, but please be patient. All our fans just need to be patient with us. We will be a great team in the end.