BOSTON – You knew sooner or later, Isaiah Thomas’ impressive scoring streak of games with 20 or more points had to come to an end.
That time was Monday night as Thomas had 19 points in Boston’s 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
While the Hawks certainly played well defensively against Thomas and the rest of the Celtics, the 5-foot-9 guard is quick to acknowledge that the Hawks didn’t all of a sudden come up with a game plan that can shut him down.
“They didn’t do anything special,” said Thomas after missing 17 of his 21 shot attempts. “I just missed a lot of shots in the paint that I usually make. I got to where I wanted to, but that wasn’t just me it was our team. We missed a lot of shots that we usually make and you got to tip your hat off to the Atlanta Hawks.”
In doing so, Thomas’ franchise-record streak of consecutive games with 20 or more points now stands at 43.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens saw first-hand how his players – including Thomas – missed a lot of shots they usually make.
But limiting Boston offensively always starts with how you defend Thomas.
“They were really aggressive on him,” Stevens said. “They were really tough on him. They bodied him up, they were physical, they had a bunch of different guys on him at different times, they were very active off of the screens.”
And as far as his streak of games with at least 20 points, Thomas said he’s not disappointed that it has come to an end.
“I’ll break it again,” he said. “I’m not worried about it, I’ll break it.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game which ended with a 114-98 Celtics loss to Atlanta.
He was arguably the biggest difference-maker on the floor Monday night. In addition to doing an exceptional job defending Isaiah Thomas, he also led the Hawks with 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting with four rebounds and five assists.
His ejection aside, Howard’s presence around the rim at both ends of the floor caused major problems for Boston. He finished with a double-double of 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting along with 12 rebounds and two blocked shots.
The Hawks did about as good a job as we’ve seen any team at defending Thomas who still managed to lead the Celtics in scoring with 19 points on 4-for-21 shooting. For a minute there, he seemed to be flirting with a quadruple-double. In addition to his 19 points, he also had seven rebounds, seven assists and seven turnovers.
His play was one of the few positives for Boston. He came off the bench to score 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting to go with five rebounds.
Only Paul Millsap logged more minutes on Monday than Prince whose defense and rebounding were huge. He had a near double-double of eight points and 12 rebounds.
This could be a dud for Boston almost every game, but they were worse than usual on Monday night. Atlanta had a 55-40 advantage on the boards which contributed to them dominating points in the paint (60-34), second-chance points (20-11) and fast-break points (15-7) which was fueled by rebounds followed by quick outlet passes to players in transition.