EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 13, 2012

Where is the celebration for Jason Terry?: He will be better than Ray Allen

Bill Burt

BOSTON — Lost in the Ray Allen "hates" Rajon Rondo (Rondo doesn't think Allen is athletic enough any more), Avery Bradley (stole his starting position) and Danny Ainge (tried to trade him to Memphis Grizzlies, of all teams, last winter) is this one fact.

The guy who will replace Allen on the roster, Jason Terry, is ... gulp!!! ... better.

That's right, the untold story of the recent run of Celtics signings is that Terry is, for lack of a better word, a stud.

I understand the love affair with Allen. He personifies "class." He is professional on and off the court. He is well-spoken. He is a . And, he still can hit 3-pointers with the best of them.

The "pink" hat Celtics fans — yes, I'm talking about those that have never watched a complete Celtics game on TV — adore this guy even more (i.e. my wife). Simply put, he's a good guy.

And the fact that Allen chose to go to Miami, which is akin to Johnny Damon jumping ship to the New York Yankees appears to have hurt our collective egos, making this a big news story.

But we have to be honest. As Allen, who turns 37 on July 20, has trouble getting open. Maybe his bone spurs contributed, but his opportunities seemed to dwindle this season, particularly in the playoffs.

Of all the Big Three in Boston, he might have fallen off the most.

Of the 18 playoff tilts Allen played recently, he led the Celtics in scoring only once. And he never scored more than 17 points as his playoff average sunk to a career low 10.7 points. Even worse, he was only 33 percent from beyond the arc.

He can still make big shots, but it just doesn't happen as often.

While his run here was admirable for five enjoyable seasons, enough about Allen.

Terry, who signed a very reasonable 3-year, $15 million contract last week, deserves his own press conference here. In fact, he might be the second-best Celtic on the roster now. Really. He's that good and that clutch.

While Terry is not the long-range shooter is, he brings another dimension to the Celtics bench. He not only can create a shot for himself, something Allen really can't do any more, but Terry can handle the ball. He can play point guard for the five to seven minutes Rondo needs to rest.

Terry, unlike Allen, has no issue with coming off the bench. Bradley, who could miss the first month of the season due to his shoulder rehab, will start opposite Rondo and Terry will be the first off the bench to replace either one of them.

The Celtics need that "Celtics" mentality.

Terry has never been "The Man" - which is understandable with Top 10 all-timer Dirk Nowitzki - but he has been there in many big games as Dirk's understudy.

His best two games of the NBA Finals a year ago were the last two against the Heat.

In Game 5, Terry scored 21 including the clinching shot, a 28-foot 3-pointer with LeBron James in his face to put Dallas head 108-101 with 33.3 seconds left.

In Game 6, the clincher, with Nowitzski (9-for-27) struggling, Terry led the Mavs with 27 points, making 11 of 16 field goals.

Ainge deserves some credit here. The window for "The Big Three" has been extended a year or two. The signing of Brandon Bass and the probable additions of Jeff Green and Courtney Lee give the Celtics the depth they haven't had since their championship team.

Who knows, maybe rookie Jared Sullinger might be able to add 10 minutes of beef in the middle of the floor?

But the guy we should be focusing on is Terry.

Folks, this guy, even if he turns 35 in September, still can play at an elite level. And, get this, the Allen-for-Terry exchange might actually make the Celtics better.

E-mail Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.