|Isaiah Thomas: ‘I just want to follow in the footsteps of all the Celtics greats’||04.23.16 at 1:18 am ET|
Isaiah Thomas sat on the elevated postgame podium listening with a smile as a reporter read off all the Celtics who have scored 40 or more points in a playoff game. His smile seemed to get bigger and bigger as he heard the names like Ray Allen, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Sam Jones, Jo Jo White, Reggie Lewis and Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas scored a career-high 42 points on 12-of-24 shooting from the floor, including 5-0f-12 from 3-point range and 13-of-15 from the free throw line, in a 111-103 Celtics win over the Hawks in Game 3 of their series at TD Garden Friday night. And the Celtics needed every bit of Thomas’ greatness on this night to get a win that puts them back in the series.
“I’m just glad we got the win first and foremost, but that makes me feel happy, just to be in the same category as those great players,” Thomas said. “I just want to follow in the footsteps of all the Celtics greats I know, that starts by winning then other than winning, winning championships. We are far from that, but I still want my name up there so I am happy about that.”
Coach Brad Stevens put Thomas in more of a shooting guard role, flying him off screens and pin downs that gave him better looks and more opportunities to get into the lane and do damage.
“My coaches and my teammates, coach made adjustments and he just put me in a better position to be successful,” Thomas said. “First and foremost, I was just in attack mode, I was trying to do whatever it takes to win this game and my teammates kept feeding me and putting me in the right spots and the shots was falling, so that’s all I did. I got the easy part, my teammates helped me out a lot and coach does a great job adjusting.”
He was also inspired before the game from former NBA small men who played huge in the playoffs. Allen Iverson and Isiah Thomas both sent him texts of well wishes.
“Allen Iverson just said keep fighting, they did what they were supposed to do in Atlanta, now its time for you guys to take advantage of being at home,” Thomas relayed. “Then Isiah Thomas just gave me a few tips I cant tell you guys about. He told me what he has seen and he helped me out a lot.”
|Stud and Duds: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Pistons hold off Celtics||12.16.15 at 11:08 pm ET|
After the Pistons opened their first double-digit lead of the second half, Celtics coach Brad Stevens turned to his bench, but it wasn’t enough to counter Detroit’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Jackson, who combined 54 points in a 119-116 victory.
Once the Pistons built a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead — their largest of the night, Jonas Jerebko’s nine points on three straight 3-pointers helped the C’s cut the deficit to four. But before Jerebko’s final 3-pointer, Jackson converted three free throws on a questionable shooting foul that extended Detroit’s lead to seven. In the end, Jackson scored seven more points and Caldwell-Pope added four from the free-throw line in the final minutes for the Pistons.
Isaiah Thomas made a 3-pointer in the final seconds that cut the lead to 118-116. The Celtics fouled Jackson, who missed his second attempt, but with no timeouts remaining Jared Sullinger’s desperation heave from the opposite end of the floor sailed wide in the final 1.7 seconds.
Remarkably, the Celtics loss on the second night of a back-to-back on the road for just the first time in 11 games. Thomas scored a career-high 38 points, Sullinger added a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Tyler Zeller scored 12 off the bench. Caldwell-Pope netted a team-high 31 points, Jackson dropped 23 and Andre Dummond had a double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) for the Pistons.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
|Stud and Duds: Undefeated Knicks top Celtics, 101-95||10.17.15 at 12:40 am ET|
The Knicks frontcourt set the tone early and prevented the Celtics from settling into their comfort zone offensively.
New York defended the paint well and forced a number of second-half turnovers, holding the C’s to just under 40 percent shooting from the floor and preventing them from getting into an offensive rhythm in a 101-95 loss. The Celtics managed a fourth-quarter comeback, but came up short when the Knicks knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers.
Derrick Williams led the charge for New York with 19 points and five rebounds, as the Knicks improved to 4-0 during the preseason. The Celtics fell to 3-1. In an encouraging sign, second-year Celtics wing James Young scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. Seeing him score is always a good sign, and this was easily his best game of the preseason.
Stud of the night: Isaiah Thomas.
In only his second start in a Celtics uniform, Thomas scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers, and dished five assists in 24 minutes. The C’s offense was at its best in transition against the Knicks, and Thomas was a big part of that, doing most of his damage on the run. In the second half, when it came to driving to the hoop and interior scoring, the Knicks’ defense made stops and prevented the Celtics from scoring in the paint.
Dud of the night: Kelly Olynyk.
After a solid outing against the Nets, Olynyk struggled against the Knicks. New York contested his jumpers and forced Olynyk to take off-balanced attempts. He finished 1-for-7 with an underwhelming line of two points and three rebounds in 11:49. Olynyk has played well early in the preseason, but couldn’t find an offensive groove against New York’s Robin Lopez, Kyle O’Quinn and Lance Thomas — much like teammates Amir Johnson, David Lee and Jared Sullinger.
Vine of the night
Celtics coach Brad Stevens was handed just the second technical of his NBA career after a no-call in the second half, when Knicks guard Cleanthony Early undercut Tyler Zeller on a fast-break dunk. Stevens didn’t think twice when he stepped onto the court to plead his case. I agree coach, that was a foul. Always great to see Stevens riled up.
Whine of the night
In his best game of the preseason, so far, Jared Sullinger still only scored five points against the Knicks, although he pulled down 10 rebounds. O’Quinn may have given Sullinger the ounce of motivation he needed to grab 10 boards, tossing the Celtics forward around the paint and even making layup attempts difficult. O’Quinn also earned a flagrant foul after sending Sullinger to the floor in the third quarter. It’s a positive sign to see Sullinger grab 10 boards, but 1-for-8 from the floor and 3-for-6 from the free throw line isn’t going to fly for a guy who was considered one of the Celtics’ biggest scoring threats entering his fourth NBA season.
Stat of the night
The Celtics amassed 18 turnovers, while the Knicks only had seven. When the Knicks opened up a double-digit lead in the second half, the Celtics responded with a run in the third quarter. But after things got chippy between the two teams (see: O’Quinn’s flagrant foul), the Celtics made bad passes and committed a number of turnovers that led to an 88-80 fourth-quarter lead by the Knicks.
@ of the night
Avery continue to shoot well this preseason and a couple of steals. What more can you ask more? #CelticsTalk
‘ CausewayStreetBlog (@CausewayStreet) October 17, 2015
Avery Bradley continues to knock down jumpers throughout the preseason, but he cooled off a bit in New York. Bradley finished 3-for-7 from the field, including one 3-pointer. It would have been nice to see him take more shots in the third quarter, but it was great to see him fill up the stat sheet. He also pulled down eight rebounds and had three assists.
|Danny Ainge asks for Isaiah Thomas’ input during free agency||05.26.15 at 12:11 pm ET|
“Danny said if there’s any free agent out there I’m interested in, to let him know,” Thomas told The Boston Globe. “That has me excited. For him to ask for my input means a lot, because it means I’m definitely, right now, a part of the future, and they also value your word and what you think about the game of basketball.
“It means a lot, and it’s a mutual respect we have. Now, hopefully, we can get a few guys.”
With a void at the center position, this year’s Sixth Man of the Year said that he would like to see the Celtics bring in a rim-protector.
“A defensive-minded player,” Thomas said. “It’d be nice to get one of those in the draft. A lot of the big men out there could definitely help us out. But I know Danny is always up to something.”
After being traded from the Suns midway through the season, Thomas quickly became an integral part of coach Brad Stevens‘ pick-and-roll offense. He led the team in scoring (17.5 points per game) and assists (seven per game).
When asked about his recruiting pitch to potential free agents, Thomas kept it simple.
“The history behind the Boston Celtics is what you want,” he said. “And the city of Boston is definitely a sports city. They love their players and support their players. Really, everything you want in a basketball team and organization is here.
“It might not be Miami or LA with the weather, but what’s most important is the culture. And I can only imagine, when we really get good, what the city would be like.”
|5 things we learned in dramatic Celtics victory over Suns||02.23.15 at 11:47 pm ET|
In a blowout turned thriller, it was Thomas who had the most frustration to vent after being traded by the Suns and then being ejected from his first game as a Celtic. He led the C’s (21-33) over the Suns (29-28), 115-110, Monday night in Phoenix.
Thomas had a late 4-point play, followed by an acrobatic finish at the rim that essentially sealed a Boston win after Phoenix had cut the deficit to just a single point in the fourth.
Avery Bradley had a game-high 23 points for the Celtics, while Thomas had his second 21-point game off the bench in as many games as a member of the Celtics. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight led the way for the Suns, scoring 21 and 20 points respectively.
For a complete box score, click here.
In a pick-and-roll league like the NBA, having a player like Thomas is crucial. The Celtics now have an offensive threat — a player that draws double teams because he can come off of a pick and make a quick decision to pass, shoot or drive to the rim. At 5-foot-9 he’s small in stature, but his value to the Celtics going forward is enormous. Not to overreact to someone who figures to be just a piece of Boston’s future success, but if Thomas’ skill set is so obvious in just a couple of games with a depleted squad, just wait until he’s not the focal point of the opposing defense. You can see why Danny Ainge has been chasing Thomas these past couple years. He was an absolute game-changer down the stretch of the only game we’ve had the pleasure of watching him finish in green. Aside from his 21 points and seven assists, Thomas led his team by a wide margin in plus/minus, finishing as a plus-21 in his 27 minutes of play.
CREDIT AVERY BRADLEY
In WEEI.com’s recent Celtics roundtable I wrote that Bradley was the one guy that needed to improve his play. Maybe he’s been reading Green Street during his down time on the road trip? Bradley has been fantastic of late. He came out and set the tone early with 14 first quarter points, and then had a huge steal and 3-pointer late to help seal the victory. And he did it all while hounding the athletic backcourt of Bledsoe and Knight — finishing with six steals to go with his 23 points (8-for-14 from the field).
|Doc Rivers on D&C: Jeff Green ‘starting to take off’||04.04.13 at 10:05 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and talked about the final month of the regular season, the Mike Rice controversy at Rutgers, and how he almost played for Bobby Knight at Indiana.
The Celtics clinched a playoff berth Wednesday with a 98-93 victory over the Pistons. Jeff Green scored 34 points and hit a key 3-pointer in the final minute, continuing his resurgence after sitting out last season following heart surgery.
“He missed a year last year. You just don’t walk back on the court and play well, especially with the injury that he had,” Rivers said. “I just think it took some time. This is the next phase of his career, and he’s starting to take off.”
The Celtics head into the home stretch of the regular season looking to take advantage of some well-timed off days.
“This is a great stretch here,” Rivers said. “I hope we can really improve out team over this next week, because we practice [and] days off. So it’s a pretty good stretch here for us to try to get some improvement in.
Kevin Garnett remains out with an ankle injury, but Rivers said he expects the team’s inspirational leader to return in time to get some games under his belt before the playoffs.
“He’ll play soon,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if he’ll play Friday, but I think he’ll be playing pretty soon.”
The big news in the basketball world this week was the reaction to the videotape of since-fired Rutgers coach Mike Rice abusing players in practices.
“I did see the video and it was just shocking,” Rivers said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that in any practice that I’ve been in. ‘¦ I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Added Rivers: “I don’t know coach Rice at all. But obviously I think when he saw that, you understand that he probably changed as well, which is a good thing for him. But that was hard to watch. And I just felt for those kids. Because the college kids, they go to college and their careers are in coaches’ hands. So, they will not complain no matter how bad things are, because they all have this dream of making it to the NBA, and they don’t want to be they guy, that guy that started a scandal and get the black mark. So, they can really be taken advantage of. In that case, they were.”
|On 25th anniversary, looking back at Larry Bird’s famous steal vs. Pistons||05.25.12 at 10:37 am ET|
Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of not only one of the greatest plays in Boston sports history, but one of the most memorable moments in NBA history.
In Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference finals at the Boston Garden against the Pistons, Celtics forward Larry Bird added on to his legend, turning an almost sure defeat in a pivotal game into a stunning victory in the matter of seconds.
With the C’s trailing by a point in the closing seconds, Bird drove the lane and had his shot blocked by Dennis Rodman. With the ball heading out of bounds, Celtics guard Jerry Sichting tried to save it, but it was knocked off his body and the Pistons received possession, setting up the theatrics. With five seconds left, Isiah Thomas hurriedly tried to inbound the ball and lobbed a pass to Bill Laimbeer, who was standing on the baseline near the Celtics basket.
What Thomas didn’t see was Bird, who timed the pass perfectly and flew in from his position at the top of the key to steal the ball, a remarkable play that gave the Celtics sudden life with the final seconds winding down.
“Isiah’s pass just hung up there,” Bird recalled in a 2009 ESPN story about the play. “It seemed to take forever to get to Laimbeer. [After stealing the pass], I was thinking about shooting, but the ball was going the other way and so was my momentum.”
Narrowly avoiding falling out of bounds, Bird found Dennis Johnson streaking down the lane and sent him the pass. Johnson grabbed it and without hesitation laid the ball off the backboard and in as the Celtics took an improbable 108-107 lead with one second left.
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