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Could Isaiah Thomas and Celtics copy Steph Curry, Warriors and win an NBA championship? It’s looking more and more possible 04.30.17 at 10:56 pm ET
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Apr 30, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) shoots over Washington Wizards forward Jason Smith (14) during the second half of the Boston Celtics 123-111 win over the Washington Wizards in game one of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas shoots over Washington Wizards forward Jason Smith (14) during the second half of the Boston Celtics 123-111 win over the Washington Wizards in game one of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics have gone where no other team has gone in NBA playoff history. 

Not even the Golden State Warriors of the last two NBA finals appearances have mastered the art of the 3-pointer the way these Celtics have. 

Good thing, too, because most teams down 16-0 and 20-3 the way these Celtics were Sunday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis against Washington would have zero chance of coming back. 

And most players who got in on a red-eye nine hours before Game 1 after attending his sister’s funeral would have absolutely no ability to play let alone scoring a game-high 33 points in leading his team back to a 123-111 win. 

“I got in at 4 a.m. I tried to get as much sleep as I could on the flight and then when I got home this morning,” Isaiah Thomas said of his cross-country flight from Seattle. “It’s tough, but it’s the playoffs so there are no excuses. I decided to play and I just tried to give it all for my team and we came out with the win.”

But these Celtics are all about making history as Avery Bradley reminded us after Game 5 against the Bulls. 

The Celtics in the first round set a new NBA playoff series record with 76 three pointers. They started slowly in the first two games against the Bulls but then started to warm up from beyond the arc. In Games 4 and 5, they were 19-of-77 combined. On Friday, they were 16-of-39. Then it really all clicked Sunday. They converted 19-of-39 from beyond the arc. 

Are the Celtics finally finding their level from beyond the arc?

“Hope not. Hope we still have some level to find,” Brad Stevens said. “But we dug ourselves a pretty big hole shooting it in the first round; we did not shoot it great, except for two games. But hey, we’re going to have to shoot the ball in to be a good team. I mean, I think that the ability to space the floor, to open up lanes for drives for Isaiah and others, and then Al (Horford)’s rolls I think is really important. So you’re not going to make nineteen every night, but we took a lot of good ones and we got good ones for each other.”

There’s only team with this kind of attack to win an NBA championship. The 2015 Golden State Warriors with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green connected on 240 three-pointers through 21 playoff games on their way to the title. Through seven playoff games, the Celtics have 95. Multiply that by three and the Celtics would shatter the Warriors figure with 285 threes.

Celtics fans watching with pure ecstasy Sunday their team dismantle the Wizards after the 0-16 start now know precisely what those Golden State Warriors fans felt like the last two seasons. So many experts said there was no way any team could keep this up in the playoffs. There’s no way in the NBA playoffs any team could take 39 threes and make nearly half of them. 

In the 29 minutes following the 16-0 hole to start the game, Boston scored an astounding 91 points. Think about that. 91 points in a playoff game over two and a half quarters. 

“They were a little more aggressive than we were,” Bradley Beal said. “Our defense slipped a little, we lacked some IQ and focus. We gave up a lot of threes, I think 19. We gotta do a better job at guarding the three and being on the same page defensively.”

 “Yeah, I mean, I thought we were in trouble, obviously, the way that that game started,” Stevens added. “But it’s a long game and you know you’re only a run away from being right back in it. You know, I just think that you just stay the course. We were sloppy right out of the gate for the first five minutes. We can’t expect to play that way and be good for the rest of the series. But played well the rest of the time.”

In some ways this Celtics team might be even tougher than the Golden State team that won it all two years against Cleveland.

Just what happened to Isaiah Thomas alone on the eve of the playoffs has taken an emotional toll on him and his teammates. Then to be so outplayed on their home court by an inferior Bulls team and drop the first two games of the playoffs.

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Read More: 2017 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Golden Warriors, Isaiah Thomas
How Isaiah Thomas continues to amaze and how the Celtics are just following his remarkable lead at 5:53 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas returns from the funeral of his sister at 4 a.m., scores 33 while losing a tooth nine hours later. The Celtics overcome deficits of 16-0 and 20-3 and blast the Wizards, 123-111, in Game 1 of Eastern semis. What amazed you the most? Mike Petraglia and Josue Pavon break down the stunning Game 1 performance.

Read More: 2017 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Josue Pavon
Celtics 123, Wizards 111: Down 16-0, C’s come roaring back to take Game 1 of Eastern Conference semifinals at 3:45 pm ET
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Marcus Smart reacts after making a 3-pointer against the Wizards on Sunday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Marcus Smart reacts after making a 3-pointer against the Wizards on Sunday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

One down, three more to go. 

The Celtics erased a 17-point first half deficit and topped the Wizards, 123-111 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Behind 33 points from grieving star Isaiah Thomas and another near triple-double from big man Al Horford, the Celtics overcame a 16-0 deficit and blitzed the Wizards at a raucous TD Garden.

The Wizards wasted no time sucking the life out of the TD Garden with a 16-0 run to open the game en route to a 20-3 lead. It took nearly four minutes for the Celtics to score their first points — Thomas made three free throws to put his team on the board before having one of his front teeth knocked out. 

He finished the quarter with 12 of the Celtics’ 24 points while the Wizards tacked on 38. Kelly Olynyk was a spark off the bench with 10 points in the opening frame but it did little to extinguish Washington’s sizzling offense. 

However, the Celtics didn’t need much time to erase the deficit. They kicked off the second quarter with a 16-4 run, tying the game at 42 with 7:41 left in the first half and by halftime only trailed the Wizards by five (64-59).

Jae Crowder’s 3-pointer from the corner gave the Boston their first lead of the night — 73-71 — with 6:54 left in the third quarter, starting a 16-4 run and swung the momentum into the hands of the Celtics. Thomas poured in 31 points before the final frame and bounced back from his poor outside shooting in the first round by draining 5-of-9 from behind the arc. 

The Wizards scored only 16 points in the third quarter and faced a 15-point hole. 

From there it was a shootout. Rookie Jaylen Brown, who hasn’t seen meaningful minutes in four straight games, checked in with under six minutes left and made an immediate impact. He drained a corner 3-pointer on one possession and found Crowder (24 points, 6 3-pointers) behind the arc on the very next. Although Bradley Beal responded to both with a 3 of his own, Horford (21 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists) made an open jumper, pushing the lead to 116-105. 

With under two minutes left, the Celtics converted turnovers into 3-pointers and easy layups and cruised victory.

On the afternoon, the Celtics made 19 of 39 3-pointers.

Read More: Al Horford, Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Wizards
Emotional Isaiah Thomas delivers eulogy at his sister’s funeral (video) at 12:55 pm ET
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Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas spoke at his sister’s funeral on Saturday, tearfully remembering Chyna Thomas as an inspiration and saying he’d never forget her in comments broadcast by King 5 News in his home state of Washington.

“When I found out the news I wanted to give up and quit. And never in my life have I ever thought about quitting,” Thomas said at the services. “I realized quitting isn’t an option. That’s the easy way out. I will keep going for my sister, as I know she wouldn’t want me to stop. I love you Chyna and I miss you so much. And everything I do for the rest of my life will be for you. I love you, girl.”

Thomas flew back to Boston from the funeral late on Saturday night and attended the shootaround before Sunday’s 1 p.m Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Washington Wizards.

Chyna Thomas, 22, was killed in a single-car crash on April 15.

Read More: Celtics, Chyna Thomas, funeral, Isaiah Thomas
Celtics show finishing kick, throttle Bulls in Game 6, earn date with John Wall, Bradley Beal, Wizards 04.28.17 at 10:23 pm ET
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Apr 28, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Celtics forward Gerald Green (30) dunks the ball as Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic (44) looks on during the first quarter in game six of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Gerald Green dunks the ball as Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic (44) looks on during the first quarter in Friday’s Game 6 at United Center. (David Banks/USA Today Sports)

Goodbye, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade. Hello, John Wall and Bradley Beal. 

The team that battled for and earned the No. 1 seed in the East in the final two weeks proved they can put away an inferior (and injured) team as the top seed Celtics blew past the Chicago Bulls, 105-83, at the United Center. 

Avery Bradley led the way with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field. 

“I thought Avery’s decision-making and basketball play the last two games has been outstanding at both ends of the floor,” Brad Stevens said. “He’s a heck of a player and he had a great series for us.” 

As has been the case in the four wins, the Celtics were sizzling from beyond the arc, hitting 16-of-38 on Friday. They finished the series with 86 3-pointers in the six games. The 86 triples is a new NBA playoff record. 

“We’ve got more coming the way we shot before [Friday],” Stevens said. 

Since losing Rajon Rondo to a broken right thumb (suffered in the second half of Game 2), the Bulls didn’t win a single game, as the Celtics captured the first postseason victory of the Brad Stevens era, 4 games to 2. The Celtics became the third team in NBA history (in 24 chances) to capture a series after losing the first two games at home, joining the 1969 Lakers and the 1994 Rockets. 

The 1969 NBA finals was also the last time the Celtics won a best-of-7 series after losing the opening two games when they beat the Lakers in seven games. 

“There’s only one goal in Boston,” Stevens said. “There’s 17 banners above us. We don’t have a choice.” 

As a result, the Celtics get a fascinating Eastern Conference semifinal matchup with the Washington Wizards, their newfound rival starting Sunday at TD Garden. The Wizards beat the Hawks, 115-99, Friday in Game 6 in Atlanta to also capture their series in six games. Game 2 will also be at TD Garden on Tuesday before shifting to Washington for Games 3 and 4. 

Tickets went on sale at www.celtics.com for the series 30 minutes after Boston’s blowout win in Chicago. 

The two teams had a rivalry that was fueled by a war of words between John Wall and Isaiah Thomas. Bradley Beal and Wall combined for 73 points in their Game 6 win Friday in Atlanta. 

The teams split their four meetings this season, with each team winning twice on its home court. That could be significant as the No. 1 seed Celtics will hold the home court advantage in the best-of-7 series.  

The Celtics came out looking bound and determined to avoid a Game 7 back in Boston Sunday at TD Garden. Boston hit three 3-pointers to start the game. Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Gerald Green all hit triples as the Celtics raced out to a 9-2 lead. 

(For a full boxscore, click here.)

They connected on six of their first 11 attempts from 3-point range and showed significantly more energy and desire to be on the court than the hometown Bulls. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Isaiah Thomas, Washington Wizards
Celtics 108, Bulls 97: C’s roar to Game 5 victory, push Bulls to brink of elimination 04.26.17 at 11:08 pm ET
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Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) lays the ball over the reach of Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the first half in Game 5 of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) lays the ball over the reach of Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the first half in Game 5 of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

For the first time in three trips to the playoffs, it’s not all about Isaiah.

The Celtics on Wednesday took a 3-2 lead over the Bulls with a 108-97 victory in Game 5, their third straight win after dropping the first two games at home, and they did it without a banner night from All-Star Isaiah Thomas.

Though Thomas had his moments, particularly during the game-clinching run in the fourth quarter, this one was about the supporting cast.

Avery Bradley scored 24 points with six assists. Big man Al Horford, a weapon all night in the pick and roll, chipped in 21 points, 7 rebounds, and nine assists, filling the stat line in all the ways the Celtics envisioned when they signed him over the summer.

The second unit contributed, whether it was monster dunks from Terry Rozier and Jonas Jerebko, 14 points and some clever finishes from a fired-up Kelly Olynyk, or another energetic performance from Marcus Smart (8 points, 8 assists).

That said, this one was still a game until midway through the fourth quarter. Despite playing without injured point guard Rajon Rondo, who was unable to go just days after breaking his thumb in Game 2, the Bulls hung tough and actually entered the fourth quarter with a one-point lead following Jimmy Butler’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third.

But Thomas and Horford took over in the fourth, spearheading a 25-8 run to open the quarter as the Celtics pulled away. After scoring just seven points in the first half on 1-of-6 shooting, Thomas came alive in the second half and finished with 24 points, including a number of the fearless drives that are his trademark. Though he shot just 1-for-10 on 3-pointers, he went 11-for-11 from the free throw line; as a team, the Celtics went 23-for-23.

On the other side, aging star Dwyane Wade did his best to keep the Bulls in the game, nearly notching a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists.

The Celtics had too much, however. They can close out the Bulls in Game 6 on Friday in Chicago. There’s a chance Rondo plays in that one, but the way the Celtics have played the last three games, particularly their second unit, it might not matter.

Read More: Al Horford, Bulls, Celtics, Isaiah Thomas
Thanks to Gerald Green, Isaiah Thomas, Celtics tie series, finally showing true colors vs. Bulls 04.23.17 at 9:10 pm ET
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Apr 23, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Celtics forward Gerald Green (30) grabs a rebound against the Chicago Bulls during the first half in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Gerald Green grabs a rebound against the Chicago Bulls during the first half in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at United Center. (Mike DiNovo/USA Today Sports)

As has been the case all season, when it mattered most Sunday, Isaiah Thomas was savior for the Celtics. 

With the United Center crowd roaring after the hometown Bulls came all the way back from a 20-point hole to take their only lead, the Celtics’ NBA MVP candidate took over the game in a way only he can. 

Thomas, still mourning the death of his 22-year-old sister Chyna, scored a game-high 33 points with seven assists to lead the Celtics to a 104-95 win over the Bulls in Game 4 Sunday night in Chicago to pull Boston in a 2-2 tie as the series heads back to TD Garden for Game 5 Wednesday night. Game 6 will be next Friday back in Chicago. 

“It’s unfathomable the way he’s performed on the court,” Brad Stevens said of Thomas after the Game 4 win. 

“Isaiah Thomas is a hell of a player. An unbelievable player. A warrior with everything he’s going through,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg added. 

In his first public comments since his sister’s death, Thomas took to the podium after the game, asking that reporters not ask him about his sister’s death. 

“Not one man can guard me,” he said when asked about his best game of the series so far. 

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here, so I just feed off what the guys give me. Being here is what makes me, I guess, sane and makes me feel normal through this tough time. They’ve been everything. This organization is the best organization there is.”

The visiting team has won all four games in the series while the Celtics have taken full advantage of the Bulls without Rajon Rondo (fractured right thumb). 

Gerald Green showed exactly why Brad Stevens put him in the starting lineup. 

For the second straight game, the Celtics came out on fire. While not quite as blazing hot from beyond the arc, the Celtics still drained four triples in the opening 12 minutes as they raced out to a 30-18 lead. And for the second straight game, the Bulls looked utterly lost without Rajon Rondo, who appealed his $25,000 fine for attempting to trip Jae Crowder in the first half of Game 3 Friday night. 

The key to the first quarter was the energy Green was able to provide, getting his second straight start. He was flying all over the court, driving to the basket while hitting a 3-of-5 shots. Green finished the first half with 16 points, already a playoff career high. He finished the game with 18 points and seven rebounds. 

“He’s a guy that you have to account for. He opens up space for other people,” Stevens said of Green.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 10 first-quarter points as visitors claimed a 30-18 lead after 1. The quarter ended on a horrific missed goaltending call when Terry Rozier went up for a layup in the closing seconds. Bobby Portis blocked the ball after it had hit the glass. Brad Stevens spend the closing moments of the quarter screaming as he approached the midcourt line. The Celtics coach managed to avoid a technical foul. 

(For a full statistical recap and box, click here).

The Celtics opened the second quarter with mainly reserves and managed to build a pair of 20-point leads. With the Celtics up 41-21 following Green’s third 3-pointer, there appeared to be a bit of a turning point. Marcus Smart came down with a defensive rebound only to be stripped from behind by Isaiah Canaan, who converted a lay-up. Jimmy Butler trailed on the play and a frustrated Marcus Smart turned and lightly shoved Butler in the chest. 

A double-technical was called and the Bulls seemed a bit more energized. The Celtics built the lead to 20 again at 45-25 before going on a 15-6 spurt. Like Game 3, the Bulls closed the first half with some momentum but Jae Crowder’s three with 55 seconds left put the lead back to 55-42. 

Another key to the Celtics building a 20-point advantage was the play of the Kelly Olynyk. With Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Al Horford on the bench, it was Olynyk who provided tight defense on Dwyane Wade and drilled a wide open three on the other end as the Celtics maintained a comfortable lead. 

Avery Bradley picked up his third foul with just under six minutes left in the second quarter when it appeared Butler enhanced a swim move by Bradley in the Bulls front court.

Looking for a spark and clearly dissatisfied with Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams in their attempt to fill in for the injured Rajon Rondo, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg turned to Canaan to start the third quarter with Wade, Butler, Robin Lopez and Nikola Mirotic. 

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Read More: 2017 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Gerald Green
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