ATLANTA – No matter where Isaiah Thomas was on the floor in Game 5, there were at least two and sometimes three Atlanta Hawks defenders nearby.
Seeing this, Thomas spent a lot more time dishing it off to teammates rather than driving into the lane looking to score.
But far too often, his teammates didn’t attack or they would eventually swing the ball back to Thomas who once again drew a crowd of defenders.
It went on like this most of Game 5 which ended with Atlanta easily beating Boston, 110-83.
Thomas knows he has to play better than he did in Game 5 when he scored just seven points on 3-for-12 shooting. But so do his teammates who Thomas believes should be upset at Atlanta, according to Thomas, not respecting them.
“It should be a sign of disrespect to my teammates, for them to put two or three on the ball every time I have it,” Thomas said. “Other guys have to step up and make plays; that’s what it comes down to.”
Boston’s Evan Turner, who led the Celtics with 15 points and five rebounds, agreed.
“We definitely need to make ourselves available,” Turner said. “I think that’s pretty much it, and make the right plays from there.”
Far too often, making the right play was a foreign concept to the Celtics who trailed by as many as 34 points in Game 5.
So much of what the Celtics do offensively centers on Thomas and what he’s able to do scoring-wise. And while he has been more often than not live up to the challenge, this is the playoffs and the Celtics are facing one of the NBA’s top teams defensively.
“If they try and do it again in Game 6, it comes down to other guys making plays,” Thomas said. “I’m going to try and get the ball out as quickly as possible, out of the trap, out of the two or three guys they have on me. But other guys have to make shots, other guys have to make the plays for us to win.”
The idea of becoming more of a facilitator goes against Thomas’ greatest strength which is that of a scorer.
But he has been in the NBA long enough to know that as good a scorer as he is, Boston is not going to win Game 6 if he doesn’t get help from others offensively.
“It’s tough for me because I feel I can score on anybody,” Thomas said. “But as a point guard I have to make the right play. I have to trust my teammates. And I know once my teammates do make shots or make the right play out of the double-team, it’s gonna open up for me throughout the game.”
That wasn’t the case in Game 5, but Thomas remains confident that he and the Celtics will figure what they need to do in order to be successful in Game 6.
“I have to figure out ways to beat it and I will,” Thomas said. “I’ll be ready for Game 6.”