BOSTON -- Whether you fault Jason Terry or the Celtics' offensive system -- or a combination of the two -- for the inconsistency he dealt with during the first half of the season, what matters most for Boston right now is the JET might finally be cruising at a comfortable altitude.
Terry put in 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the Celtics' 106-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, good for his fifth straight game in double-figure scoring -- his longest such stretch of the season.
Terry's resurgence is coming at the best possible time, in the wake of Rajon Rondo being lost for the season after tearing his right ACL. But the timing might not be a total coincidence. After Wednesday's win over the Sacramento Kings, Terry suggested the Celtics' new spread offense -- employed since Rondo went down a week ago -- is "more conducive" to his game, and he reinforced that notion after Sunday's victory.
Why is Boston's new-look offense working for him?
"Just because it's much more open," Terry said. "It's free-wheeling and the defense can't sit on particular plays. This league is great with scouting and they get used to you and they kind of know your tendencies. So in this offense it's very unpredictable. We don't know who's going to get the shot, but we know we're going to get a good one."
Movement -- of the ball and the players -- is a key factor in Boston's new scheme. While things occasionally got stagnant when Rondo was playing and certain sets broke down, the Celtics now have no choice but to move the ball if they want a decent shot at the basket. Without set plays with multiple options being run, there's more freedom for players to create their own openings, be it through floor spacing, pick-and-roll play or crisp ball movement.
"It's a lot of fun," Terry said. "Winning's fun, so we've just got to continue to do the things that we need to do to be successful every night. That's play defense, get out in transition, and spread the ball around."
Added Paul Pierce, "You've got a lot of guys who can knock down shots, drive the ball, slash to the basket -- Jason, Jeff Green, (Leandro) Barbosa. It's great. We put four smalls out there at times, one big, and we drive the ball. We set picks, make the extra passes and when you've got a combination of those guys who can knock down shots, especially from the 3-point line and drive the ball to the basket, it's such a hard thing to defend when you spread the court like that."
This is the Terry that Boston wanted when it signed him to a 3-year, $15.6 million deal last summer. The Celtics wanted the prolific scorer and former Sixth Man of the Year; the player capable of delivering instant offense and immediately turning the tide of a game. There were flashes of that player over the first half of the season, but not with any consistency. Some blamed Terry; others said Terry was being underutilized in Boston's offense.
But if there were any offensive restraints on Terry before, they've been removed, and he's relishing the increased responsibilities, both as a playmaker (he came through with a team-high six assists on Sunday) and a scorer. With just more than a minute left in the third quarter, Terry made the right play, passing up an open 3-pointer for an even more open 3-pointer from Green in the left corner. And late in the fourth quarter Terry scored at a pivotal moment -- burying a pull-up jump shot from the right elbow with the Celtics desperately clinging to a 3-point lead amid a spirited Clippers rally.
Over his last five outings, Terry has shot 55 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from 3-point nation -- steady signs that he's finding the comfortable offensive rhythm that he's sought all season.
It may have taken longer than the Celtics wanted, but it's finally looking like this JET has made it out of turbulent skies.