Jason Terry is looking forward to the home-court support, the tradition, the emphasis on winning. But the Celtics also get style points from Terry, which is among the reasons he joined the team.
“They play basketball,” Terry said during an interview at Reebok headquarters in Canton last week. “Watching them on film, you pretty much already know it, but when you really sit down and watch it on film, it’s beautiful.
“It’s our game. You know, over the years, this game has transcended and turned into a lot of one-on-one ‘iso’ basketball. But the way Doc Rivers runs his system is the way basketball is supposed to be played. Everyone touches it. There’s screening, moving, cutting, communication — it’s all there.”
Terry’s identity is tied to the 3-pointer — he is fourth on the league’s all-time list — and he is expected to compensate for the loss of Ray Allen with his perimeter shooting. But Terry also gets the overall concept of the game.
“Every year in the NBA, there’s going to be four or five teams that have a chance to win it — Boston obviously is one of them,’’ Terry said. “But it’s how you play, OK? Basketball has to be a game where it’s five people. You’ve got to use everybody on the floor, and that’s what Boston does.”
Newcomers often struggle with the Celtics’ defensive schemes, at least initially. Terry has settled into the area and hopes to get a headstart on integrating himself into the team.
“That’s a whole other beast,” Terry said. “It all goes back to your system. It’s a team defensive system, and you’re held accountable if you don’t do your job.
“What allows you to be held accountable is it’s a system and so it’s one of the best defensive systems in this league. And the pieces aren’t — I don’t want to say irreplaceable — but you lose Ray, you get me. So it’s like you have system in place and if you have the talent you have a chance to win.
“No question, there’s terminology, there’s ‘are you in the place you’re supposed to be?’ That’s why I started early. Training camp’s not until October and I’m already watching defensive film. I have the offensive clips of where I’m supposed to be, and then I implement it into my workout.”
Terry, 34, played for Dallas from 2004 through last season, winning a championship in 2011. He signed a three-year contract with the Celtics.
“They made it easy for me,” Terry said. “Talking to Doc Rivers, talking to KG [Kevin Garnett], it was a great factor. Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce are three guys that you want to play with. They leave it all out there on the floor every night. The passion they play with is tremendous.
“I study the game, I’m a student of the game, and they’re going to make it easy for me. Two Hall of Famers, possibly three, on the floor, how much easier does it get?’’
A conversation with Garnett helped sell Terry on the Celtics.
“I’ll miss Dirk [Nowitzki], but in Kevin you get kind of a different animal,” Terry said. “Dirk makes tough shots and does what you need him to do, but Kevin makes everyone around him better and he plays both ends of the floor.
“I don’t know how much longer he’s going to play, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. They want him to be a little more selfish but that’s really not his game.
“If you’ve watched him progress throughout his career, he can put up 20 and 10 every night if he wanted to, but for him it’s all about team. One night it might be Paul, one night it might be me, and that’s fine with him and that’s good.
“And if you watch on film, you can see it, he’s setting screens, he’s communicating, he’s talking, doing all the little things it takes to win, and that’s why you love him.”
Terry, in his 13th season, will be glad to have Garnett on his side instead of playing against him.
“It was tough,” Terry said, “because you have to fight every possession, and when I say fight, I mean damn near every possession you put the gloves on and fight this guy for every inch on the court, and that’s somebody you want to play with.
“I love that quote Kevin said in playoffs, something to the effect that, ‘I work on my craft, I’m in the gym, I’m tired of people telling me I’m getting old.’ And I live and die by that.”
Terry is also looking forward to having the Garden crowd behind him.
“Change is good, sometimes,” Terry said. “You’ve been in a spot for a while and it’s time for a fresh start, a new beginning. What greater place to play than in the Boston Garden, with all those banners, those fans? It’s a good situation.
“There’s three places — when I went back home to Seattle, but we can’t do that anymore, Madison Square Garden, and Boston Garden — you knew to get your rest the night before. Because you’re going to be in for a war.”
NBA rookie well-prepared
Dionte Christmas got the wake-up call three years ago. After Christmas’s phone did not ring during the NBA draft three years ago, he decided to get his game up to speed elsewhere.
After playing in the Czech Republic, Greece, Israel, and Turkey, Christmas, 25, believes he is ready for the NBA — as do the Celtics, who signed him to a one-year contract.
“Coming out of school, I thought I would be a draft pick,” Christmas said. “But, obviously, I needed to work on some things. I got some feedback, and I’ve been working on those things.
“I had to get stronger, I got stronger. I had to work on my playmaking ability, I think I did that. I don’t have great size, but I had to rebound the ball better. I worked on my all-around game and I think that caught the eye of Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers at the right time.”
Christmas showed his skills while competing for the Celtics entry in NBA summer leagues in Orlando and Las Vegas. He was the team’s leading scorer (14.2 points per game) in Las Vegas, displaying the ability to create his own shots when the offense broke down. He also appeared comfortable in an increased ballhandling role after E’Twaun Moore was traded.
But Christmas will be starting over in training camp.
“I’ll be coming in 110 percent,” he said. “One thing you have to adjust to is having the veterans on your back — not only me, but all the rookies — and that will be tough, mentally.
“My time overseas in professional ball the last couple years prepared me for the situation coming into camp. I know what being a professional means, I conduct myself as a professional. And I know what coaches expect, especially with the Celtics. They want you to give 100 percent every time.
“Overseas, if you’re not playing well or not practicing well, they send you right home. And I’ve been fortunate to stay. Coaches have liked my work ethic, and people expect that over there. I definitely think I’m ready for the NBA.”
Other teams, European and NBA, were ready to offer Christmas a contract after the summer league.
“I was interviewing for 29 other teams also, but this is what I wanted,” Christmas said. “It’s how they conduct themselves on and off the court — and it will be a great thing to be around some of the best veterans in the game in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, champions. They are all winners and it’s going to be a great opportunity.”
Christmas has been working out in his Philadelphia hometown with Wayne Ellington and Dion Waiters, among others.
“Everybody congratulates me on the Celtics,” Christmas said. “They say they are top-notch and very professional — one of the best in the league, if not the best. Great staff, great coach, GM. It’s an honor to play for this team. That’s why I was so high on wanting them to offer me a contract.
“We can contend for a championship. Every year they are a contender for the championship. They came up a little short this year . . . if they had Avery Bradley, they could have won against Miami and gone on to the next round.
“This year, with Courtney Lee and me and the other rookies — all the pieces are there. Definitely there is a chance to win that 18th championship.
“I can’t wait for the start, Day 1 of training camp. Kevin Garnett is there to teach the young guys and myself, and we’re all willing to learn.”
Mr. Smith goes to Israel
Former Boston College and Worcester Academy star Craig Smith will play for Hapoel Jerusalem next season, according to a Hoopsworld.com interview.
“It’s an opportunity to go somewhere that I think is a good setting for me, as far as getting the opportunity to play big minutes and show people that I can play,” Smith said. “I think it’s going to be more a rebirth, which is cool, in a biblical sense, since it’s in Jerusalem.”
Smith, 28, was with the Trail Blazers last season, his third team in six NBA seasons.
Lakers coach Mike Brown is revamping his staff. The first addition, Steve Clifford, was an assistant with the Magic the last five years. Clifford, a former Boston University assistant, will be a junior member of a group that is expected to include Bernie Bickerstaff and Eddie Jordan.
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.