Thomas 'not really bothered' when Mavs target him in mismatches

Thomas 'not really bothered' when Mavs target him in mismatches

Before Isaiah Thomas got to the NBA, he recalls going to a Dallas Mavericks practice with ex-Celtic Jason Terry who played for Dallas at the time.

Thomas recalls watching Dirk Nowitzki work out and needless to say, he was impressed.

“His workouts are amazing,” Thomas told reporters following Boston’s 111-98 win over Dallas on Monday night. “You see why he’s as great as he is.”


And at times on Monday, the 5-foot-9 Thomas saw up-close how talented the 7-footer really is.

“It’s fun to be able to compete with him and sometimes match up against him even though he doesn’t see me when I switch on him,” said Thomas, grinning. “He’s a hell of player.”

But the defensive switch that Thomas speaks of, has become a common tactic by teams looking to take advantage of Thomas’ height and maybe just as significant as a way of wearing him down.

Thomas, who had 29 points on Monday against the Mavericks, is the NBA’s No. 2 scorer at 28.9 points per game in addition to leading the league in fourth-quarter points with 10.6 points per game.

So being such a prolific scorer this season, it’s understandable that teams will try and physically wear him down by forcing to exert more energy while defending a bigger player.

Thomas said it doesn’t bother him at all.

“You try to contest, keep them in front of you and if they make the shot, good shot,” Thomas said. “I’m not really bothered by them.”

It may have appeared as though the Mavericks tried to do that more than most of Boston’s opponents this season.

But a lot of that had to do with Dallas’ offense which relies heavily on isolation plays, usually with Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes or Wesley Matthews.

“That’s what they do to a lot of teams; they try and find the mismatch,” Thomas said. “And when Dirk has the ball in the middle, every matchup is a mismatch because he can shoot right over you.”

Marcus Smart physically cleared to play

File Photo

Marcus Smart physically cleared to play

The Celtics might have a big piece back for Tuesday night's Game 5 against the Bucks. 

Marcus Smart, out since last month after undergoing thumb surgery, has been physically cleared to play. The Celtics have yet to announce whether Smart will definitely play Tuesday, but it's hard to imagine the ultra-competitive Smart wouldn't. 

Smart's potential return might go a long way towards the Celtics reclaiming their series lead after winning Games 1 and 2 before dropping two straight in Milwaukee. His impact on games against the Bucks during the regular season illustrated how much his defense can help. 

How to watch/stream Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics, Game 5

How to watch/stream Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics, Game 5

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch Game 5 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, as the Celtics host the Bucks at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's: Game 5 will come down to 'who wants it more'

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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