Stars, studs and duds: Isaiah Thomas' Game 2 status is 'his call'

Stars, studs and duds: Isaiah Thomas' Game 2 status is 'his call'

BOSTON – Isaiah Thomas’ 22-year-old sister died on Saturday, so it’s understandable for him to be still grieving.
Although he played in Boston’s 106-102 Game 1 loss to Chicago, there’s no guarantee that he’ll suit up for the Green Team in Game 2 on Tuesday.
“Whatever he needs to do, he needs to do, and we’ll help in any way,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “If he needs to and wants to stay here, then we’ll be here surrounding him. And if he wants to go to Seattle, then he should go to Seattle. It’s his call; and should be.”


As far as what Thomas will decide, Stevens made it clear that he has no idea and won’t seek out an answer, either.
“Those’ve got to come on his own time, and then we’ll adjust accordingly,” Stevens said.
Balancing the emotions of the night following the one-car accident that killed Thomas’ sister on Saturday, with the reality that there was a basketball game to be played, was among the many challenges the Boston Celtics players were dealing with in Game 1.
“It’s tough,” Boston’s Gerald Green told CSNNE.com following the Game 1 loss. “At the end of the day, it’s tough. We don’t wish this upon our worst enemy. At the end of the day, we do have a game to play. We need to be there for Isaiah as well.  We all have to pull together at this moment right now, stay together.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Game 1 of the first-round series between Boston and Chicago.

Jimmy Butler

He stepped up when his team needed him most, finishing with a team-high 30 points which included 15 in the fourth quarter. Butler also grabbed nine rebounds with three assists and a blocked shot.
Isaiah Thomas

An emotional time all the way around, Thomas managed to put his personal pain aside and deliver a strong performance for Boston. He led all scorers with 33 points, doing so on an efficient 10-for-18 shooting from the field. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out six assists.

Robin Lopez

His play more than any other Bulls player, set the tone for Chicago’s dominant board game. He finished with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds which included eight offensive rebounds.
Marcus Smart

He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but he made a number of impactful plays at both ends of the floor. For the game, he had nine points on 3-for-9 shooting with six assists.
Bobby Portis

The Celtics never adjusted to his play on the floor, giving him a ton of open to lightly contested shots all game. He finished with a near double-double off the bench, with 19 points and nine rebounds.


Celtics rebounding

We knew this would be a challenging area for Boston, but there’s no excuse for how easily the Bulls had their way with Boston around the glass. The Bulls finished with a 53-36 rebounding advantage which led to them ending up with a 23-15 edge in second-chance points fueled by Chicago’s 20 offensive rebounds.
Al Horford

He finished with a great stat line of 19 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. But this was not a good game for Horford; not at all. Lopez absolutely killed him on the boards, and got way too many second and third-shot opportunities to score. And while Horford has never been a big-time shot blocker, he has to do a better job of protecting the rim than what we saw in Game 1.
Nikola Mirotic

For most of the time he was on the floor, he was the best thing going for the Celtics offensively and defensively. He had four points while missing eight of his nine shots from the field. Fortunately for Chicago, Portis, Paul Zipser (six points, two rebounds) and Cristiano Felicio (four points, four rebounds in 14 minutes) picked up the slack in the frontcourt for Chicago.

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WATCH: Boston Celtics at New Orleans Pelicans

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Celtics-Pelicans preview: Can C's slow down Anthony Davis?

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Celtics-Pelicans preview: Can C's slow down Anthony Davis?

As the NBA trade deadline drew near, Celtics Nation was hoping tonight’s matchup between Boston and New Orleans would be Anthony Davis returning to where his pro career began.

He’s still with the Pelicans, doing what Davis has done for most of his career – dominate play.

But there’s a new twist now … he’s also winning. 

That’s why the 6-foot-10 Davis is no longer seen as a player that might be on the move anytime soon. 

He’s not just one of the league’s best players, but a bonafide MVP candidate whose stock as an elite player is even greater since New Orleans lost DeMarcus Cousins (ruptured Achilles tendon) for the season on Jan. 26. 

Since Cousins’ season-ending injury, New Orleans (39-30) has a 12-9 record with Davis averaging 31.1 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and 2.3 steals per game in that span. 

Davis is also averaging 7.8 free throws per game which ranks fourth in the NBA, although you wouldn’t know he was among the league leaders in that category based on the postgame rant by his coach Alvin Gentry following New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday night. 

“A.D. (Anthony Davis) never gets a call,” a visibly angry Gentry told reporters following the loss. “He never gets a call. We talk about them holding him. We talk about them grabbing him on rolls. We talk about them coming under him on post-ups. He never gets a call; not one. And you know why? Because he doesn’t (bleep) complain about it. He just keeps playing the game.”

Regardless of how often he gets to the line, Davis is still putting up MVP-caliber numbers this season in Cousins’ absence. 

But it’s not like Davis’ stat line this season overall – 28.0 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.5 steals – didn’t stand out for all the right reasons, either.

However, Davis’ shine isn’t quite as bright now with the Pelicans losing four of their last five games which has dropped New Orleans (39-30) down to the eighth and final playoff spot and just 1.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers (37-31).

So, the Celtics come into town facing not only one of the better teams in the West, but a club that is absolutely starving for a win.

While Boston (47-22) certainly wants to come into the Big Easy and get a victory, its impact on the Celtics’ playoff hopes is non-existent. 

Boston has the second-best record in the East and trail Toronto (52-17) by five games with 13 remaining. They face the Raptors two more times this season, but even if they win both of those games and thus the head-to-head series, it likely won’t come into play because of Toronto likely finishing with the best record in the East. 

And behind Boston in the standings is Cleveland (40-29), another injury-riddled team that’s seven games behind the Celtics in the standing and has shown no signs of threatening to gain ground on Boston. 

So regardless of how the Celtics fare, it’s likely they will remain sandwiched between Toronto and Cleveland in terms of playoff seedings are concerned. 

And that might factor into who plays – and who doesn’t – for Boston in these final few games of the regular season. 

Boston’s Daniel Theis suffered a season-ending torn meniscus injury in his left knee, and Marcus Smart’s right thumb injury will keep him out for the rest of the regular season with the earliest he might be back being the latter stages of the first round of the playoffs, or sometime during the second round if the Celtics advance that far. 

Boston must also make sure Kyrie Irving and his sore left knee, are good to go for the playoffs. In addition, the Celtics must work Jaylen Brown back into the fold after he suffered a concussion that has kept him out of Boston’s last three games. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has made a point of not allowing himself or his players to use their injury situation as an excuse for not playing good basketball. 

But he knows good basketball for his injury-riddled roster, involves players elevating their play.

“We’re going to be in the process of really looking at ourselves and redistributing responsibility on our team without guys going outside of what they do best,” Stevens said, adding, “We’re going to have to figure out how to play our best basketball.”