Celtics

Danny Ainge: Isaiah Thomas's hip may cause 'a little bit of delay' at season's start

Danny Ainge: Isaiah Thomas's hip may cause 'a little bit of delay' at season's start

BOSTON – Danny Ainge considered several factors before ultimately deciding that the Boston Celtics were better off trading away Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving. 

Among them? 

That hip injury Thomas suffered in the playoffs last season which according to Ainge, might impact when the now ex-Celtic starts the season. 

“There’s probably a little bit of delay for Isaiah to start this year,” Ainge said in a conference call with reporters following the trade becoming official Tuesday night. 

In addition to Thomas, the Celtics also sent Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the rights to the 2018 first round pick they acquired from Brooklyn, to the Cavs in exchange for Irving. 

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Another major factor for the Celtics pulling the trigger on the deal was that it allowed the Celtics to add a younger, more accomplished player in Irving who is, "a 25-year old perennial all-star … one of the best offensive players in the league."  

Irving averaged a career-high 25.2 points per game last season while shooting 47.3 percent from the field which was also a career high.

While most agree that Irving is the more talented player, that doesn’t diminish from what Thomas did for the Celtics.

He delivered one big shot after another time and time again, established himself as the best scorer in the East (28.9 points per game) last season. 

And when faced with adversity like the death of his baby sister just hours before the start of the playoffs, Thomas fought through the emotional pain and led the Celtics all the way to the conference finals before ultimately the pain in his hip forced him to the sideline for the last three games. 

During the call, Ainge said he had already spoken to both players but would not elaborate on any specifics of those conversations. 

“Those are private conversations,” Ainge said. “I’m not gonna share my conversation with Isaiah. I can leave it to your imagination how difficult that conversation was for me and Isaiah. And Kyrie was very excited about coming to the Celtics.” 

Ainge added, “Everybody fell in love with him; such an underdog with his (5-foot-9) size and his heart. It was challenging making this decision.”

Blakely's takeaways: C's put entire league on notice

Blakely's takeaways: C's put entire league on notice

BOSTON – You had to figure Golden State’s explosive offense would probably come up a little short scoring-wise against the Boston Celtics and their top-rated defense. 

But for them to score 88 points – that’s about 32 below their average – was very one of those, “where the hell did that come from?” moments. 

And it was exactly what the Celtics needed to escape with a 92-88 win that extended their winning streak to 14 in a row but maybe most important, put the entire league on notice that this streak they’re on right now … it’s real. 

“They wrote us off coming in, saying Golden State was gonna beat us, and do this and do that,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “We came out and played basketball. Even though we got down, the make-up of our team is staying in; we’re resilient.”

Here are five takeaways from Boston’s signature win of the season, 92-88 over Golden State which extended Boston’s winning streak to 14 straight. 

 

BROWN’S GROWTH

Jaylen Brown was playing with a heavy heart less than 24 hours after the death of his best friend. But as we’ve seen in this still-young season, Brown is very much one of the league’s emerging talents. He certainly played that role on Thursday in leading Boston with 22 points with seven rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.  

 

TALE OF TWO HALVES FOR TATUM

There’s something about the second half of games against elite players that brings out the best in Jayson Tatum. When Boston opened the season at Cleveland, Tatum was noticeably better in the second half than the first. And in Thursday’s win over Golden State, it was more of the same. In the first half he had just two points only to finish with a 10-point second half (7 coming in the fourth) for a 12-point game on 2-for-5 shooting. 

 

AL HORFORD

As well as he’s played, a strong case can be made for Horford being a league MVP instead of their leading scorer, Kyrie Irving. Horford tallied a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds to go with a pair of assists. Horford now has six double-doubles this season which equals his double-double total from all of last season. 

 

MARCUS SMART

As much as you know Smart makes great effort plays consistently and does indeed make a difference when he’s on the court, his shooting woes are reaching critical mass even as Boston continues to gobble up wins. In the last five games, Smart has averaged 7.6 points. That’s not too bad, right? But then you look and see that he’s shooting 19.2 percent (10-for-52) in that span. Ouch! So far, the Celtics have been able to find success despite his shooting struggles. But you have to anticipate at some point it’ll catch up with them. 

 

SHORTENED ROTATION

For most of this season, pretty much everyone who suits up for the Celtics, have played. But against the Warriors, it had the feel of a playoff-like rotation with head coach Brad Stevens playing 10 guys with nine reaching double digits in minutes played. Considering how the second unit struggled to make shots (they missed 17 of their 19 shot attempts), it’s understandable why head coach Brad Stevens leaned a little heavier than usual on his second unit.