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.”