BOSTON – If you spend enough time around Isaiah Thomas, you will quickly discover that he rolls with some pretty elite company.
The friendship between him and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr., has been well documented.
But on the eve of the biggest game of Thomas’ basketball career – Game 3 on Friday night – he received text messages from two of the greatest guards to play in the NBA, Allen Iverson and Isiah Thomas.
“Allen Iverson just said keep fighting, they did what they were supposed to do in Atlanta, now it’s time for you guys to take advantage of being at home,” Thomas recalled. “Then Isiah Thomas just gave me a few tips I can’t tell you guys about. He told me what he has seen and helped me out a lot.”
Indeed, Thomas didn’t just have a good game on Friday night.
He had the best scoring game of his NBA career, which says a lot considering scoring the ball is what he does best and most often.
The 5-foot-9 guard scored a career-high 42 points in leading the Celtics to a 111-103 Game 3 win over Atlanta.
Boston now trails the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 in Boston on Sunday and Game 5 back in Atlanta on Tuesday.
It was the first 40-point game by a Celtic in a playoff game since Rajon Rondo had 44 against the Miami Heat on May 30, 2012.
But beyond Rondo, the list of Celtics with 40 or more points in a playoff game reads like a who’s who of Celtics legends which includes Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Paul Pierce and Jo Jo White.
Pierce is the only one not in the Hall of Fame and that’s only because he’s still in the NBA ballin’.
“I’m just glad we got the win first and foremost,” Thomas said. “But that makes me feel happy, just to be in the same category as those great players. I just want to follow in the footsteps of all the Celtics greats I know; that starts with winning then other than winning, winning championships. We are far from that, but I still want my name up there so I am happy about that.”
Thomas has proven himself to be excellent at creating scoring opportunities for himself.
But as we saw in Games 1 and 2, he’s going to need help in this series if he’s going to be an effective scorer.
He got plenty of it from some predictable (Evan Turner, head coach Brad Stevens) and not-so-predictable (Jonas Jerebko, Terry Rozier) sources.
“Coach made some adjustments and he just put me in a better position to be successful,” Thomas said. “First and foremost, I was just in attack mode, I was trying to do whatever it takes to win this game and my teammates kept feeding me and putting me in the right spots and the shots was falling, so that’s all I did. I got the easy part, my teammates helped me out a lot and coach does a great job of adjusting.”