ATLANTA – With the scored tied at 101, Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had some ideas on what he wanted to see in the closing seconds on Friday night.
Isaiah Thomas had some ideas as well; ideas that didn’t necessarily jive with Stevens.
So what did Stevens do?
He trusted Thomas in the most critical moment of the game, and Thomas delivered as the Celtics escaped Atlanta with a 103-101 win as Thomas drained the game-winner with 2.4 seconds to play.
“Yeah, yeah, I mean usually you would call time out in that situation but he (Thomas) actually... I could see him down the court kind of wave off the idea of a time-out so I told him, ‘alright go win the game.’ You know, that's what you have to do if you wave off the idea of a time-out. But I trust him to do that and ultimately, he's made so many big plays you have to ... You believe in your guys.”
As important as getting the victory was for Thomas, knowing that Stevens has that level of faith in him at such a critical moment of play, was just as huge.
“It means everything,” Thomas said. “Without him and this team, I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in. He lets me be me, he puts me in position to be me and that’s the definition of our relationship right there. He really trusts me in that type of situation and I can’t thank him enough.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night’s game.
Once again Thomas saved his best work for when it mattered the most, the fourth quarter. That is when he scored 13 of his game-high 28 points which included the game-winning shot with 2.4 seconds to play. Thomas also made the Hawks pay for double-teaming him frequently by dishing out a game-high nine assists along with grabbing four rebounds.
The Hawks’ leading scorer had an efficient night offensively with 23 points on 8-for-15 shooting. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out six assists.
Maybe the biggest surprise of the night was Olynyk, scoring 18 of his season-high 26 points in the first half in helping Boston pull ahead and maintaining a double-digit lead for most of the first half.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Here’s the man whose red-hot shooting brought the Hawks back from the brink of being blown out, to playing a competitive game. He finished with 23 points off the bench, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter.
He delivered a quiet but effective performance for the Celtics, finishing with a near double-double of 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting to go with nine rebounds.
The name isn’t a familiar one to many, but Delaney gave the Hawks some much-needed production off the bench after the starting backcourt of Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder struggled. Delaney had 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting in addition to dishing out six assists and grabbing four rebounds.
At no point in the game did Schroder look or play like a difference-making, impact player that the Hawks need him to be in order to win. He had just four points on 2-for-11 shooting.