ATLANTA – It was something you seldom see at the start of the fourth quarter in what at that point was a blowout game: The leading scorer on the floor.
But there was Isaiah Thomas in the game, only to leave just one minute and 46 seconds into it with a left ankle sprain.
All indications from Thomas are that he’ll receive around-the-clock treatments, which should be enough to get him up to being healthy enough to play in Game 6 in Boston on Thursday.
While the Celtics certainly can breathe a sigh of relief that his injury doesn’t appear to be too serious, it doesn’t take away from the fact that he was on the floor in a game that Boston wasn't going to win.
But that’s just it.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens was well aware that his team was fighting an uphill battle just to get back in the game and compete, let alone find a way to victory.
“With this team, I’ve seen just enough crazy stuff to think that we just might get back in and get a chance,” Stevens said. “I know that’s quite a task, a mountain to overcome, but we’ve all seen this team do some pretty crazy things when they’re down.”
In Boston’s regular-season finale against the Miami Heat, the Celtics trailed by as many as 26 points before rallying for a 98-88 victory, though that deficit wasn't in the fourth quarter.
And in Boston’s Game 4 win in this series, the C's were down by as many as 16 points before rallying back for the victory.
Having been a part of a Celtics team that has made comeback after comeback this season, Stevens was willing to roll the dice that Thomas could maybe get them back into the game.
But Stevens seemed ready to ditch his plan for a comeback moments after the fourth quarter began. He actually had a player at the scorer’s table ready to replace Thomas when the guard re-aggravated a left ankle sprain that he later said began bothering him in the fourth quarter of Boston’s Game 4 win.