Thomas: C's need confidence heading into Game 3

Thomas: C's need confidence heading into Game 3

ATLANTA – Isaiah Thomas is worried.

And no I’m not talking about the 2-0 series deficit the Boston Celtics are in now.

Despite the struggles Boston has faced in Games 1 and 2, Thomas' confidence remains as high now as it was at the start of the series.

As for his teammates?

He's not so sure about that.

"I’m always going to continue to be confident,” Thomas said. “I have to make sure my teammates continue to have confidence in themselves.”

And while the 89-72 loss in Game 2 was disappointment enough for Thomas, there was an even greater concern about what Thomas saw as a group whose confidence was beginning to erode before his eyes.

“Last game (Game 1) we played confident. This game (Game 2), it was like some guys had their heads down,” Thomas said. “Coach (Brad Stevens) kept saying ‘stick together, stay the course.’ We have to do that. We have to do that. It’s the playoffs. It can turn around quick. I know our fans will be ready for us. We have to play better.”

And there’s little doubt that they will provide a much better showing of themselves in Game 3 and 4 in Boston.

Considering some of the historically bad statistics they generated in the first two games, they have left themselves plenty of room for improvement.

The seven points scored by Boston in the first quarter of Game 2 were the fewest ever scored in the first 12 minutes of a playoff game in the modern (shot clock) era.

But there is hope on the horizon in the form of returning home to familiar surroundings.

The second half of the season, the Celtics were one of the better home teams in all of the NBA. At one point they won 14 straight at home which is a franchise record for consecutive wins at the TD Garden.

And Thomas who has struggled in Games 1 and 2 shooting the ball, is likely to rediscover his shooting stroke as well in Game 3.

Thomas’ 21.5 points per game in the first two games against Atlanta, have come about on 33.3 percent (12-for-36) shooting from the field.

But more telling is the fact that the Hawks have jumped all over Boston at the start of games, and Thomas' scoring has primarily come in the second half.

In the first two games, 17.0 of his 21.5 points per game have come in the second half when the Celtics for the most part were fighting an uphill, double-digit lead.

But as important as his play is to the Celtics’ chances at success, he knows Boston can only get back in this series if his teammates also step up their game.

“We need each other,” Thomas said.

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

1:13 - The Celtics came away with a 105-100 win in Portland on Friday night. Find out why Chris Mannix is calling this the best Celtics win of the season.

6:05 - Mannix discusses details about Kyrie Irving’s ‘minimally invasive’ procedure on his knee and what his level of concern is with A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay.

10:03 - Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss what NFL players, including Devin McCourty, are doing beyond the gridiron by being active in criminal justice reform discussions held at Harvard this week.



Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

When you think about Marcus Morris these days, big-time scoring immediately comes to mind. 

But in Boston’s 105-100 comeback win over Portland, Morris’ contributions went beyond the game-high 30 points he dropped on the Blazers.

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“Coach (Brad Stevens) is doing a great job of getting me the ball in my spots and my teammates are finding me,” Morris told reporters after the win. “And I’m just coming through.”

He’s providing strong play and a tremendous presence at both ends of the floor which has been critical to the team navigating some choppy waters with a number of regular rotation players – namely Kyrie Irving – out with injuries.

“One thing is, he’s healthy,” said Boston’s Al Horford, referring to the sore knee that limited Morris earlier this season and at times forced him to miss games. “And the other is, he’s just more confident, he’s playing very assertive. He’s playing great right now, in a really good rhythm.”

Said Stevens: “That’s been him (Morris). As he’s continued to feel better; I think physically he’s felt as good as he’s felt. He’s comfortable in our system and we need him to score. If you’re a basketball player and your job is to score, that’s a pretty good job.”

And it’s one that even with all the injuries Boston has played through, few envisioned him being such an integral part of the offense. 

Morris’ calling card prior to arriving in Boston was his defense. 

But Morris has made it known that his focus on the floor is to be as complete a player as possible.

“I’m not trying to just limit myself to just being that scorer,” Morris said. “Also, on the defensive end I think I’m bringing it; my defense has gotten a lot better, especially my on-the-ball defense. I’m trying to be that all-around player and not just an offensive player … but I can score.”