Stars, studs and duds: Celtics can't score without Isaiah Thomas

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics can't score without Isaiah Thomas

BOSTON – We all know that when the fourth quarter rolls around, that’s when Isaiah Thomas is at his best for the Boston Celtics. 

As durable as he has proven himself to be, he can’t be on the floor for the entire game. And it’s that time when he’s resting, the Boston Celtics – on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks at least – began reeling which ultimately factored heavily in a 103-100 loss. 

Thomas, who had 32 points to lead all scorers, started the second quarter on the bench with the score tied at 24. By the time he entered the game at the 8:29 mark, the Celtics were down double digits as the Bucks went on a 10-0 run. In the third quarter, Boston was outscored 6-5 when Thomas was on the bench and in the fourth, it was more of the same with Milwaukee outscoring Boston 8-3 when Thomas was not in the game. 

By the end of the night, Boston was +15 (90-75) with Thomas on the floor, and -18 (10-28) when he was on the bench.

Thomas said he has an idea of how to address the team’s scoring lulls when he’s on the bench. 

“Be aggressive; guys can’t second-guess themselves,” Thomas said. “Whoever he calls to get in the game, you gotta be aggressive. And when your shot’s there, you gotta take it. And you have to be aggressive and make plays, especially our guards.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens acknowledged that is an issue for his team. 

“We’ve just got to play to our strengths to the best of our ability,” Stevens said. “I mean, that’s the bottom line. We’ll continue to do small tweaks to that until we find the exact right one. But yeah, we have, we have struggled in those moments to score. There’s no question about that.”

Thomas added, “that’s the biggest thing. We have to remain confident in each other. The guys who do go into the game, they have to be confident in themselves. We have to figure out how to be successful at those times. I believe in coach (Brad Stevens). I believe in the rest of the guys on this team. They just have to confidence and make plays; that’s all it comes down to.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday night’s 103-100 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. 


Malcolm Brogdon: He may be in his first NBA season, but this rookie plays with the poise of a seasoned veteran. He had 16 points for the Bucks on 7-for-12 shooting which included a tightly contested jumper with 3.9 seconds to play. In addition to his scoring, Brogdon also had nine assists and four rebounds without committing a single turnover.

Isaiah Thomas: The “little guy,” as Tommy Heinsohn affectionately likes to refer to Thomas as, had another big game for Boston. He led all scorers with 32 points on 9-for-17 shooting while making 5-of-9 3’s to go with five rebounds and four assists with three steals. His five made 3’s gives him 223 for the season which is a franchise single-season record previous held by Antoine Walker (2001-2002 season).

Giannis Antetokounmpo: This wasn’t one of his best games, but there was no way to ignore the impact he made on the game at both ends of the floor. He finished with a team-high 22 points along with nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocked shots. 


Khris Middleton: His ability to take advantage of the spacing created by Milwaukee’s ball-handlers dribbling into the paint, led for a very efficient evening for Middleton. He had 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting with six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a blocked shot. 

Marcus Smart: He continues to struggle making shots for Boston, but that hasn’t prevented him from making an impact. Smart finished with his second double-double of the season, tallying 11 points to go with 11 rebounds which tied his career high. 

Greg Monroe: The Celtics had serious problems keeping him from being an effective inside-the-paint target for the Bucks. He had 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting along with eight rebounds and three assists.


Jaylen Brown: This was a rough night for Brown who only played 13 minutes, 19 seconds against the Bucks. He missed two of his three shots from the field which isn’t that big a deal. But the Celtics were -21 when he was on the floor … in 13-plus minutes.  Ouch!

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. 

“He (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.”