Thomas finds himself in role of Celtics playmaker in Game 5

Thomas finds himself in role of Celtics playmaker in Game 5

BOSTON – It was a pretty typical night for Isaiah Thomas.

Wherever he went, two and sometimes three Washington defenders were within arm’s reach.

And this is where Thomas’ growth as a player shined brightly.

Rather than force the action, something he admits he would have done in his younger days, he trusted the process.


Keep moving the ball, trust your teammates and they will deliver.

Those three pillars of success, more than anything, allowed Boston to assert control in the first quarter and never look back in handing the Wizards a 123-101 thumping in Game 5.

With the win, Boston has a 3-2 series lead and can close out the series with a Game 6 victory in Washington on Friday.

There were so many heroes in Game 5 for the Celtics.

Avery Bradley dropped a playoff career-high 29 points, which was also the most points he’s ever scored at the TD Garden.

Al Horford had another game for the record book, tallying 19 points, six rebounds and seven assists, becoming only the third Celtics player since 1984 (Paul Pierce and Larry Bird were the others) to put up those numbers in a playoff game.

But as important as their individual performances were, it was their collective effort that was impressive and in what was the biggest game of the season for Boston, an absolute requirement for them to emerge with the win.

Meanwhile, Thomas found himself more in the role of playmaker rather than point-producers.

“That’s how I got to play,” Thomas said. “As a basketball player you got to read what the defense is giving you and they’re really having two or three guys on me at all times. What I’m trying to do is give the other guys space; space for others and also be a good screen-setter.”


Hold up.

Did he say good screen-setter?

The top scorer in the Eastern Conference this season, dropping 28.9 points per game, is talking screen-setting?

Not scoring, but screen setting?

“I’m versatile,” he said when asked about the screen-setting. “I do it all!”

He does.

And that’s what has made the Celtics such a successful team, one that finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference and with it, home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

So far, that home court advantage has been just that with the winner in each of the first five games being the home team.

Following the win, Celtics coach Brad Stevens spent a lot of time talking about purpose, something his team showed plenty of in Game 5 to get the win.

“I just thought we all came out with a better sense of purpose today than we probably did in those games,” Stevens said. “But, you know, sometimes you feel a lot better when you make shots at the rate we did.”

Boston shot a blistering 52.9 percent (46-for-87) from the field and 48.5 percent (16-for-33) from 3-point range.

“They made shots tonight,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. “They played well. They played a good basketball game; they beat us. We gotta regroup, come back and play much better Friday night.”

As well as the Celtics played, they know they too must improve upon their Game 5 performance knowing Game 6, their first shot at closing out this series, will easily be the toughest game of this series to win.

“We have to stay in the moment,” Thomas said. “We know what is at stake. We know it’s going to be a hostile environment. We know it’s going to be tough to get a win out there but if we lock in like we did tonight, limit our turnovers, limit their transitions, that gives us the best chance of winning that game.”

Said Bradley: “Everyone was prepared and that is what it’s all about. We’re a team and it’s going to take a team effort to be able to beat the Washington Wizards.”

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

File Photo

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas back in green? Maybe there's a chance after all.

The former Celtics guard, now with the Lakers, started a Q&A session on Twitter and was asked whether he'd consider returning to Boston this offseason. This was his answer...

That's not a no.

Thomas has had a rough go of it since leaving the Celtics. His brief tenure in Cleveland didn't go according to plan, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better out in L.A. The 29-year-old is averaging 15.3 points per game just a year after averaging 28.9 with Boston.

Let the speculation begin.


Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans. 

Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss. 

“[Davis] was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”

Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth. 

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Pelicans

And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists. 

Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success. 

But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus). 

And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.

“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”

And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. 

At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics. 

But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play. 

And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.

Certainly, more points and rebounds would help. 

But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score. 

That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it. 

Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone. 

“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”