Thomas 'stayed aggressive' to help lead Celtics

Thomas 'stayed aggressive' to help lead Celtics

At the half on Friday night from Oracle Arena, the Boston Celtics held a slim 45-43 lead over Golden State and their best scorer by a mile, Isaiah Thomas, had as many points as the guy five rows back with a lap full of nachos.

But the poor start shooting the ball by Thomas (zero points, 0-for-7 from the field) was balanced by his five assists without a single turnover.

“We had 15 assists and six turnovers at halftime,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters following the loss. “That was the best we’ve had in a while. So I was pleased with our half overall.”

And as far as Thomas’ play through the first two quarters, Stevens said, “To be up two with Isaiah 0-for-7 I felt pretty good. You knew he was going to get some to go in, to go down.”

Thomas has made no secret about working towards finding a balance between doing what he does best which is score, along with getting his teammates involved. The 5-foot-9 guard provided both – assists in the first half and scoring in the second – in leading Boston to a 109-106 victory.

Thomas led the Celtics in scoring for a franchise record 15th straight game, with 22 points. He also dished out six assists.

“I stayed aggressive, stayed the course,” Thomas said. “My teammates kept confidence in me and wanted me to be in attack mode.”

In the third quarter Thomas scored 13 of Boston’s first 15 points, the kind of offensive flurry Boston needed to combat the barrage of 3s being knocked down by reigning league MVP Stephen Curry who led all scorers with 29 points which included eight of Golden State’s 20 made 3s.

“It’s tough guarding a guy when he steps on the floor he’s in range and he’s got the green light to do what he wants,” Thomas said. “The thing you have to do is make it tough on him, and at the other end hit him with screens, try to make him somewhat tired.”

A similar tact has been taken by a lot of teams when it comes to defending Thomas who was named an all-star for the first time in February. And while limiting his scoring is certainly one of the primary challenges every team that faces Thomas has to contend with.

But as we saw in the first half of Boston’s most significant win of the season, his passing game can be effective as well.

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.