Jerks might call Isaiah Thomas “antsy” as some sort of joke about his size. That’s a shame, because he actually is antsy as hell to play.
It’s been clear from Thomas’ social media usage and interviews that he’s champing at the bit (it’s “champing,” not “chomping”) to return from his hip injury and make his Cavaliers debut. That isn’t expected to happen for at least another month, so for now tweets and Instagram arguments will have to suffice.
Sunday night showed both sides of Thomas’ motivation. He started by stating the obvious:
Yet it’s what followed that tweet that reminded everyone why Thomas was so beloved in Boston.
Given that he was the last pick in his draft and was twice discarded in trades — with one such occurrence coming from a team that decided they’d rather have someone else than pay him max money — Thomas should and will always be a “chip on his shoulder” guy. It’s a quality that comes off as forced with players who have been handed everything throughout their careers, but in Thomas’ case it’s clearly genuine.
When Thomas finally does return, he’s going to have even more motivation. Not only will he be playing for a new contract, but now he feels disrespected again. That usually leads to him going off.
The popular narrative surrounding struggling Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum is that he’s hit the dreaded “rookie wall.” Another fun theory is that he’s been hampered by a dislocated finger suffered on December 20 vs Miami. One or both may be the cause of his dip in shooting since the start of this calendar year (he went from 58.5 eFG percent in 2017 to 46.2 eFG percent in 2018). But another factor could be respect, or the lack thereof, for Tatum when driving to the hoop.
From October through December, Tatum averaged 4.6 drives per game, coming away with points on 77 percent of those drives (fourth in the NBA). A lot of those points came at the line, as Tatum drew a foul on an NBA-leading 15 percent of his trips to the basket. Since January 1, Tatum is averaging 6.5 drives per game, but is only coming away with points on 55 percent of those drives. Oddly, the Celtics forward is only drawing a foul on 6 percent of his drives over that span, which is 67th in the NBA.
It’s hard to say why he’s no longer getting fouls, but the lack of respect is definitely impacting his overall efficiency. Hopefully the zebras will start treating Tatum like the obvious future Hall of Famer he is in the final stretch of the season.
A buyout seems to be looming for the Atlanta Hawks power forward Ersan Ilyasova.
The 6-foot-10 inch forward is averaging 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 46 games played this season. He's on a one-year, $6 million contract with the Hawks.
If he hits the open market, as seems likely, he might be worth a look from the Celtics. A stretch forward who can make 3-pointers is a notable addition to any team.
Ilyasova could ultimately add some size and depth to a guard-heavy Celtics team that's looking to make a deep playoff run come April.