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NBA PM: The Key To Boston’s Title Hopes?
Posted By Bill Ingram On August 17, 2012 @ 5:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
When the Dallas Mavericks won the 2011 NBA championship it had a lot to do with Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki. After all, Nowitzki did average 26 points and roughly 10 rebounds per game during that series, leading the team to its first championship in franchise history. There was another player, however, who was arguably even more important; a player who came into training camp that year sporting a championship trophy tattoo, setting the tone for the entire season.
Yes, Dirk was unstoppable in the 2011 Finals, but without Jason “Jet” Terry, the Mavs would still be looking for their first NBA championship. It was Terry who called out Miami HEAT forward LeBron James, then torched him to the tune of 27 points in the series’ final game, shooting 70 percent from the field and hitting 43 percent from three in the process.
As the Boston Celtics searched the ranks of free agents looking for someone to give them a leg up on the HEAT, they could have turned to no better person than Jet. It doesn’t hurt that, unlike his predecessor Ray Allen, Terry is more than willing to come off the bench.
“For me, in Dallas, it was like, they do the starters and everybody gets their name called,” Terry said to ESPN Boston. “Well when you’re the sixth man, and they check you into the game, you get your own ovation. You get your own call-out. What better feeling is it than that? So, I relish in that. … You know there’s no warm-up. Every shot is pressure, everything. You don’t get time to kind of feel out the game. You have to come in and be ready to play right now, and I love that challenge.”
Terry filled the sixth man role for both Avery Johnson and Rick Carlisle in Dallas, and while he made it clear he would love to start, he filled the role long enough that he developed his own mentality about the position.
“Sixth man, it’s all about energy, effort, and enthusiasm, the three ‘E’s,’ and then, obviously, putting the ball in the hole,” Terry said. “But, coming in and making an impact or an imprint on a game — every game is different, but there’s always a point in a sixth man’s role where he has to come in and be like, ‘Look, I’ve arrived. I’m here.’ Game-changer. That’s what the sixth man is.”
Allen didn’t relish the role at all, and it’s been suggested that his move to the bench was part of the reason he left Boston to join Miami over the offseason, though the Celtics were offering twice the money. Terry is not only willing to be a reserve, he also looks forward to creating the same positive, intense atmosphere among the Celtics reserves that he had going in Dallas.
“It’s very crucial that your bench players realize that it’s a long season and there’s plenty of minutes for everybody, and you’re going to be counted on at some point,” said Terry. “You have a huge job to do, and that’s how you have to look at it, because it’s a team at the end of the day. You may have two or three superstars, but those role players are just as important as those two or three superstars.”
The HEAT are still going to be heavily favored to win the Eastern Conference, but the Celtics are not a team that will go quietly should they meet the defending champs in postseason play. The presence of Terry and the influence that he will have on the court and in the locker room will be huge for Boston should they once again face their new rivals from South Beach.
NBA Draft Prospect: Joe Jackson
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Stephen Curry Talks Injury, Warriors
The Golden State Warriors have been one of the more aggressive teams in terms of roster renovations over the last year. The new faces on the team will almost certainly push them into the thick of the Western Conference playoff fight, but the first thing they need is for point guard Stephen Curry to get his ankle completely healthy.
“Two (offseason rehabs) in a row, but it’s something that you have to deal with,” Curry said in an interview with KNBR in San Francisco. “I’m going to be a better player next year and be on the court healthy. … This week I started one-on-one situations just to work my way up to five-on-five. We still have five weeks before training camp starts, so we’re really in no rush to get to (playing five-on-five). Just take it step by step for the next month and we will be ready to go.”
The recurring nature of the ankle injury has been a concern for the Warriors, but Curry says doctors haven’t given him any reason to believe it will be a long-term issue once it’s rehabbed properly.
“They just ruled out any structural damage or any red flag that would cause further or more serious surgery,” Curry said. “So, the fact that I had so many sprains and didn’t really give it that much time until the last bit of last season, didn’t give it that much time to heal, that was probably the biggest thing. Knowing that I had the last four months to get right there’s no reason I shouldn’t be ready to go by training camp.”
Small forward Brandon Rush will be back this season, and coveted power forward Carl Landry will be in the mix. The Warriors also have promising rookies Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezili, who are expected to be a impact players. By all indications, Curry expects his team to be much more competitive in 2012-13.
“The depth of our team probably makes me the most optimistic because our practices are going to be intense,” Curry said. “They’re going to be competitive and we’re going to become a better team just off that. Then when we get into games knowing that regardless of an injury here and there, a slump or something like that, we have the talent and the depth to get back and still compete consistently throughout the whole season. We have a combination of some veteran guys, some young talent that we got through the draft and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t make the playoffs. I think it’s a real expectation for us in the locker room to go out and make that happen.”
The biggest addition of all may be center Andrew Bogut, who was acquired last season but was sidelined by a fractured left ankle and never played for Golden State.
“He’s going to be our anchor,” said Curry. “Look at not only his talent, his skill set and what he can do on the floor, but then putting him on the floor with David Lee. They’re both probably the two best passing big men in the league behind Pau Gasol, maybe, but the fact that they can spread the ball around, dominate the post, especially defensively, as well, and just having that presence inside it will be a different look for us and something that we haven’t had here for a while. I think it will be a good look for us on the defensive end to have consistent effort every night.”
Making the playoffs in the Western Conference is a tall order, but the Warriors have made significant improvements across the board, and if everyone’s healthy there’s no reason to think they couldn’t be in the mix. Curry and Bogut, in particular, will dictate how far the Warriors can go.
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