Posted Jun 11 2011 10:12AM
MIAMI -- He doesn't hesitate to run his mouth as fast as his feet, not to show up the other guy or be disrespectful, but to give himself something that he absolutely needs to survive:
"It gets me going," said Jason Terry.
Yes. After the last two games, we know. And so do the Heat and LeBron James. Jet Terry is starting to spread his wings, his celebration of choice after he drops a few 3-point daggers, and both were common sights in Games 4 and 5. The help that Dirk Nowitzki needed so badly in the NBA Finals to give the Mavericks a chance has arrived, and that's why Miami sits at the brink with Game 6 looming.
After failing to score in two fourth quarters, both Miami victories, Terry boldly predicted that LeBron would not be able to keep up with him through seven games. Well, this series may not reach seven, mainly because Terry was more correct than even he ever knew. In the last two fourth quarters, Terry hit shots and LeBron appeared gassed. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra would be wise to give LeBron a breather from guarding Terry. The burden of trying to play at a high level on both ends could be taking its toll on LeBron, especially when he must chase Terry around the floor and through screens.
Not only did Terry score 21 points in Game 5, but he had six assists, evidence that he's finally breaking through the Miami defense and giving Dirk a break. His 25-foot jumper in the final minute of Thursday's game was taken when LeBron hesitated in the slightest, giving a shooter like Terry all the space he needs.
"And if there's space," he said, "I'm going to let it fly."
That's not all. Terry is walking the walk, putting himself on the spot with bold proclamations that he is backing up. Almost every day, he makes a statement that is later proven true. He talked about the dangers of LeBron trying to guard him.
"A lot of guys wear down," he said.
There's more, much more. Terry said the Blazers, who lost to the Mavericks in the first round, offered better defense than Miami.
"Not taking anything away from Miami," said Jet, "but Portland was tougher and quicker."
He made light of Chris Bosh's game-winning shot in Game 3, which dropped in when Udonis Haslem set a pick on Dirk and LeBron found Bosh wide open from 15 feet away on the baseline, which is Bosh's sweet spot.
"When it's not contested," said Jet, "I don't care who it is. Juwan Howard could've hit that shot."
He said Miami would not win if the Mavericks managed to score 100 points, which was the case in Game 5.
"They can't beat us when that happens," said Jet. "They can't keep up when forced to play our game."
Most famously, he had the Larry O'Brien trophy tattooed on his right bicep last fall, which means Terry was talking up a good game on the Heat months before The Finals even started. He said he'll get "2011" tattooed under the trophy if the Mavericks win, or just find a tattoo remover if they lose.
"I think it's here to stay," he said.
There's much to like about a former Sixth Man award winner who struts like a starter and plays like a starter, but embraces a role that seems perfect for him. He's really the Mavericks' only big scorer other than Dirk. He comes off the bench ready to work, either by using his quickness to venture into the lane, or his quick release to shoot from deep. Terry is equally dangerous from both angles when his shot is falling, and that's why the Heat is using LeBron, their best on-ball defender, on Terry. Miami knows how important he is in this series.
"We need him attacking and getting into the lane," said Dirk. "He opens up a lot of stuff for a lot of people."
Terry and Dirk have a unique relationship. There is mutual respect, obviously, but Dirk is infamous for giving Terry an earful. And just so his point gets across, Dirk confines his colorful language in English, not German. It's been that way for years. When Terry left Mario Chalmers open for a game-tying 3-pointer in Game 2, Dirk spoke to Terry like a drunken sailor.
"It's cool," said Terry. "He knows I can take it. Some players wouldn't be able to."
But Dirk can't compete with Terry when it comes to talking. Dirk doesn't even try to win that contest.
"He always has a lot of things to say to us in the locker room," said Dirk. "He's always talking. He's just an energetic guy. He loves to talk and loves to hear himself talk."
Terry had a good laugh when that was relayed to him, and of course Terry had something to say about it.
"Sometimes he tries to put a puzzle on me," said Terry. "But [talking] is something I grew up with [in Seattle], watching my idol, [former Sonic] Gary Payton, and guys like that."
There is nothing that will silence Terry except a Game 7 loss, which is something he doesn't believe is forthcoming. And if Terry says it, over and over, like only he can, then it must be true.
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