Thomas head and shoulders above Celtics teammates at free-throw line

Thomas head and shoulders above Celtics teammates at free-throw line

There are a many things Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is concerned about when it comes to his team’s play.
But the free-throw discrepancy between Isaiah Thomas and the rest of his players -- which is pretty wide, mind you -- doesn’t appear to be one of them.
Thomas, who ranks among the league’s leaders in free throws made per game, has made 122 this season compared to the rest of the Celtics who have combined for 116.
Only Chicago’s Jimmy Butler (129) and Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City (124) have more made free throws this season than Thomas.
Butler’s made free throw represent 43.3 percent of Chicago’s made free throws, while Westbrook’s 124 made free throws is actually equal to the number of free throws made by the rest of his Thunder teammates combined. Thomas' made free throws represent 51.3 percent of those made by the Celtics this season. 

A lot of it comes down to guys simply focusing on doing what they do best when in the game.
“You can’t ask these guys to be something they’re not,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game at Brooklyn. “Some guys are going to get to the line a lot because that’s what they do. Other guys are not because that’s not what they’ve done their lives. They just need to do what they do best.

"Getting into the paint and drawing contact is something that (Thomas has) always done and is used to doing. Other guys get into the paint to make plays for others.”
Stevens is right.
Thomas averages 9.9 free throws attempted per game, which ranks fifth in the NBA this season. The next closest Celtic to Thomas in free throw attempts per game is first-year guard Demetrius Jackson, who averages 2.0 free throws while appearing in three games this season.
Among the players who are in the regular rotation, rookie Jaylen Brown is the closest to Thomas with a 1.9 free throw attempt average per game.
“It’s something you can’t teach; you just have to have it,” Thomas explained to CSN’s Abby Chin. “One thing about me, even if I’m not getting the foul calls I’m gonna play my game. At some point in time throughout the game, they gotta call something.”
Fortunately for the Celtics, that time is usually the fourth quarter.
The 5-foot-9 guard averages a league-best 4.1 free throws made while taking 4.7 free throw attempts in the fourth which is also tops in the NBA.
Thomas acknowledged getting into the paint is one of the keys to Boston having the kind of success they know they are capable of this season.

“We’re slowly getting back to touching the paint and knowing that when we touch the paint, we play at a high level,” Thomas said. “Hopefully that will get us more free throws.”

Horford helps Celtics get back on track

Horford helps Celtics get back on track

Aggressive Al Horford was on the floor Friday night for the Boston Celtics, a good sign for a Celtics team that has been battered by injuries. 

As the oldest member of the team, the 31-year-old’s leadership has to become more example-driven as well as existing in the spoken word.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST  - Smart's importance to C's, dissecting the East

Horford was on point for most of Friday’s 92-83 win over Orlando, a game that was far more lopsided in Boston’s favor than the final score might indicate.

The 6-foot-10 forward/center had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. 

What was more telling was that Horford took a team-high 18 shots from the field, as clear a sign as you will find that Horford’s mindset on Friday was to attack Orlando’s defense early and often. 

And while it’s true that the Magic are one of the worst teams in the NBA, that doesn’t diminish the way Horford executed the plays called by head coach Brad Stevens as Horford played the role of primary scorer more often than usual, instead of being a major facilitator.

Having missed Boston’s previous two games, Horford was admittedly concerned if the lay-off might affect his conditioning. 

“Wind-wise I felt good,” Horford told reporters after Friday night’s win. “A little rusty on offense. But defensively I felt great. I felt our team came out with energy; just a good win.” 

A win that became a lot easier to get with Aggressive Al on the floor. 

 Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in Boston’s 92-83 win over Orlando.



Terry Rozier: He continues to provide the Celtics with really solid guard play, with all-star guard Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) missing. Rozier had a game high-tying 17 points along with seven rebounds and five assists. 

Greg Monroe: The third quarter was when Monroe really began to take over the game. He finished with 17 points, 10 of which came in the third. 

Shelvin Mack: Not a lot to cheer about for Mack and the Magic who once again struggled in so many phases of the game. But Mack still managed to score 16 points. 



Al Horford: Having missed the two previous games, Horford was back in full force on Friday. He had 15 points on 6-for-18 shooting to go with nine rebounds

Boston rebounding: The Celtics control of the glass began from the outset and never really eased up. For the game, Boston grabbed 55 rebounds compared to just 40 by Orlando. 



Fourth-quarter Celtics: The only real blemish on an otherwise impressive performance by Boston, was the team’s overall play in the fourth quarter. Boston was outscored 31-17 and turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter. 


Celtics snap skid with dominant win over Magic, 92-83

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Celtics snap skid with dominant win over Magic, 92-83

The Orlando Magic are one of the few teams already eliminated from playoff contention. 

And on Friday, it didn’t take long to see why.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST - Smart's importance, dissecting the Eastern Conference

The Boston Celtics didn’t waste any time taking control of the game and never letting up as they cruised to a 92-83 win.

Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe led the Celtics with 17 points each and Shelvin Mack had 16 points and seven rebounds for Orlando.  

With the win, the Celtics (47-22) snapped a two-game losing skid and improved their record since returning from the All-Star break to 7-3. 

Getting back on a winning track was just part of Boston’s motivation heading into Friday night’s game. 

With several key players out with injuries, the Celtics’ depth was once again on display from the opening tip to the final horn. 

In the first half, reserve guard Shane Larkin led the team in scoring with 10 points. 

And in the third quarter, backup center Greg Monroe was too much for the Magic to handle around the basket.

In the third, Monroe scored 10 of his 17 points off Boston’s bench. 

This was a game that the Celtics showed few signs of the kind of let-up we have seen them display against bad teams from time to time. 

But Orlando opened the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run that cut Boston’s lead down to 77-61 with 9:18 to play. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had seen enough and called a time-out. 

Orlando was able to chip away a little more at Boston’s lead which peaked at 24 points but was down to single digits in the fourth which provided a glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe, the Magic could get back in the game.

But when it mattered, Boston made the plays in the game’s closing moments to secure the victory. 

For the Celtics, the goal on Friday night was two-fold: find a way to win and come away healthy. 

Boston found success on both fronts, a refreshing change the Celtics hope to do more of going forward. 

Marcus Smart underwent surgery on his right thumb earlier in the day, which is expected to keep him sidelined for 6-8 weeks which would put his return to the floor at the earliest, sometime near the end of the first round of the playoffs or early into the second. 

Daniel Theis underwent season-ending surgery recently for a meniscus tear in his left knee.

And Boston played without Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness), but he might back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against New Orleans.

Al Horford returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games due to an illness, and he didn’t disappoint in finishing with a near double-double of 15 point and nine rebounds.