Celtics guard Jason Terry has been keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com this season. In the latest entry, he explains why he is still mad at the Heat, how their game plan doesn’t really change without Kevin Garnett and what bonds the Celtics. (as told to Louise K. Cornetta)
KG had the night off against the Bobcats. [Editor’s note: Garnett missed Saturday's game with a left adductor strain.] You might think our game plan changes a lot without him in the lineup, but it doesn’t at all. We want to play at our pace offensively and defensively we want to be aggressive and not allow penetration. Collectively we have to rebound as a group. We do love having KG out there because he gives us a force, a post presence, a guy we can go inside to. But if he’s not in the lineup then we are going to play wide open and get up and down in transition.
What’s been working for us right now is just playing hard. Guys are understanding and buying into their roles and how we have to play to be successful. We have to move the ball and play at a pace that suits us. Defensively, we get after it. It all starts with our defense and the guy that spearheads it is Avery Bradley. With his ball pressure, he has been amazing. I have my Seattle area guys on this team in him and Terrence Williams. They make me feel right at home with having some homeboys, literally, right here on the team.
[Rajon] Rondo is someone else we are missing in our lineup. As you know, he is out for the rest of the season. So why have we been playing well? What we’ve done is find our identity. If Rondo was here and we are playing the same way, it would bolster what we could do. We miss him dearly. He is the best point guard in the league.
The question I have been asked the most lately is what do I think of the Heat’s winning streak. My answer is I don’t and I could care less. The reason is because whether they won or lost 20 in a row, it doesn’t matter to us in this locker room. It’s all about us and how we come out and play and how we approach every game. Not just Miami, we don’t care about any team in the league. If we have to play them in the near future in the playoffs, then we can focus in a little more on them. But as of right now, we are worried about getting ourselves right and playing with a rhythm, playing with a flow as we move on toward the playoffs.
The Heat have LeBron [James] and Dwyane Wade and that is what makes them good. Other than that I don’t know what makes them good. Those two are definitely top-tier players in this league. You can rank them in whatever order. Anytime you have guys with that type of talent, then you are going to have a good team.
The Heat play Toronto on Sunday and it doesn’t matter to me whether they or we break their winning streak. I’m like Paul [Pierce]. He had the best quote I ever heard, “I hope they lose every game.” If you ask me, I’m still mad about the ’05-06 season. [Editor’s note: Terry's Mavericks lost in the NBA Finals to the Heat.]. I should have two championships. Everyone knows what the Mavericks teams that I played on did when we beat them for the 2011 championship. So I don’t bring it up. What I do is that I let my team know their weaknesses. I know ways to beat them. I won’t share with everyone else what they are until that time comes.
While I wasn’t on this team last year, I know they took the Heat to a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals. Losing that game is not something that gets talked about. Because of the adversity we faced as a group early on, it’s been more about how we’ve been playing collectively. Doc [Rivers] is giving us constant reminders about what we need to do to be successful. The blueprint is right here before us and we know it.
The last time we played them was at home in January when we won in double overtime. I expect Monday’s atmosphere to be just as good or even better. Our fans know that is an intense rivalry. They know how much they mean to us. When they get loud, they impact the game because we feed off of it. This is the best crowd in basketball.
Ray Allen came back here for the first time in that game. If you ask me if I care what kind of reaction he gets this time, my answer is nope. I really don’t care. But the reaction he gets, whatever one it is -- boos or cheers -- is well deserved.
After that double overtime win, I felt I had started to get more comfortable with my role on the team. Not that I didn’t know what it would be, but it just took some time to get into the groove of things. It happens when you have change sometimes you want things to gel sooner rather than later, but I think the journey is what makes the transition. This has been a great journey for me playing alongside Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, two legends in my mind. It’s really been a dream come true.
For me personally, I’d like my journey for the last few weeks of the regular season to be like a marathon race. We are coming down to the end stretch. So this is where I start to make my move, where I really start to get into a rhythm. I want to be the player they brought me in to be who is someone that hits big shots and makes big plays.
I’m not really aware of the standings other than knowing we’d be in the playoffs if they started right now, which is a good thing. I would love to have home-court advantage by the time the playoffs start because it does mean something. If we don’t, you have to go on the road to win a championship anyway. The team I’d like most to play in the first round is my daughter’s team, the Lady Jets. If we play them, I’ll guarantee a sweep.
This is a close team. Paul Pierce had a bowling event this past week and everyone was there. Everyone was having fun and bowling. But I think the thing that really bonds us together more than anything is our plane rides. Our plane rides are pure comedy. Guys really get to express themselves and there is a real comfort level there. It’s just us with no media, no fans, just us, just the guys. Whether it’s KG telling old stories from 1995 or it’s me joking or Courtney Lee talking about another guy and then they’re going back and forth, it’s just pure comedy. There’s no question the plane rides bond our team.