Celtics

Celtics Talk Podcast: Isaiah Thomas recalls ending Warriors' home streak, ready for another comeback

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Celtics Talk Podcast: Isaiah Thomas recalls ending Warriors' home streak, ready for another comeback

In the latest edition of the Celtics Talk Podcast, Isaiah Thomas looks back at one of his signature victories as the C's point guard when Boston came into Oracle Arena, where the Golden State Warriors had won 54 in a row, and upset the defending NBA champions.

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It happened four years ago on April 1, 2016, and Thomas vividly recalled a victory that put Brad Stevens' up-and-coming Celtics, who would go on to win 48 games and reach the Eastern Conference Finals that season, on the map.

"We were treating it like a must-win, knowing everything that was at stake for the Warriors," Thomas told A. Sherrod Blakely. "That year … they were unstoppable. We knew how hard it was to win in Golden State because of how great their fan base is. Not only that, how great a team they were. We went in like it was a must-win."

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Thomas said that win made the league take notice of not only the Celtics, but himself as well. 

Nobody thought we would be what we were. Nobody thought I would be what I was. ... Everybody on that team showed a lot of people that we were good enough to be a really good team and individually, we had really good players that to this day are showing what they're capable of doing.

Injuries have kept Thomas, now 31, from reaching the level he enjoyed with the Celtics and he's again looking for a team after he was waived by the Los Angeles Clippers after being dealt there by the Washington Wizards at the trade deadline. Still, his signature confidence hasn't waned. 

I got a lot left in the tank. I know what I can do. I'm never going to sugar coat it. I'm one of the best players in the world if given the opportunity.

And could that come in again in Boston next season?

You never know. If given the opportunity, I'd love to come back. I would love to be able to be a part of what the Celtics got going on. Just be able to help. Not come in with any expectations.

Blakely also catches up with ex-Celtics forward Jared Sullinger, who was a part of that 2015-16 team and had a big night in that win over the Warriors (20 points, 12 rebounds).

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Brad Stevens, NBA coaches have 'power and platform to affect change and will use it'

Brad Stevens, NBA coaches have 'power and platform to affect change and will use it'

NBA players have been the most outspoken group of professional athletes when it comes to raising awareness following the killing of George Floyd by ex-police officer Derek Chauvin last week.

Their voices and their platforms — while helpful — won’t be enough. 

They need allies and the league’s head coaches are ready to do their part in bringing about systemic change. The National Basketball Coaches Association has formed a committee on racial injustice and reform.

“We have the power and platform to affect change, and we will use it,” the group said via statement. 

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Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said all 30 NBA coaches were on a call recently.

“One thing that I heard from a number of coaches, as white coaches we have a lot of responsibility here,” Stevens said. 

Like the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, bringing about the kind of wide-ranging, systemic change that so many are now championing can’t be done by one person or one group. 

“We may not be able to know the depth of the pain of colleagues that are black or players that are black, our assistants that are black, but we have a responsibility to not only be empathetic but also help drive change,” Stevens said. “You saw in the coaches association statement; you saw in the Celtics statement. We have all been in these conversations before. And you’re moved to drive change and sometimes actionable steps lead to what you think is progress but this sure doesn’t look like progress."

Stevens added, “What we need to do is play our part and make sure we’re part of long-term, sustainable change.”

Brad Stevens praises Celtics' Jaylen Brown: 'He's a special leader'

Brad Stevens praises Celtics' Jaylen Brown: 'He's a special leader'

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens offered staunch support for his players who peacefully protested racial injustices this past weekend and notably had the highest praise for Jaylen Brown, who made a 15-hour drive to his native Georgia to lead a protest in Atlanta.

"Jaylen’s greatest impact, as good as he is at basketball, won’t be in basketball,” said Stevens. "He’s a special guy, he’s a special leader. He’s smart but he has courage.

"He’s got a lot of great stuff to him, and I think we recognize that when we drafted him but I think that he has been even more unbelievable every day, every year. I’ve always personally really enjoyed listening to him and talking to him about things outside of basketball. He told me he was going down there on Thursday and, obviously, I certainly am not surprised by him taking a leadership role. That’s who he is.”

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Brown made the long drive, and then, with a Celtics cap on his head, megaphone in hand, and an “I Can’t Breathe” sign, peacefully led a march through Atlanta. Later, in a social media livestream, he noted, "Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don't exclude me from no conversation at all. … We're raising awareness for some of the injustices that we've been seeing. It's not OK.”

Celtics teammates Marcus Smart, Vincent Poirier, and Enes Kanter all joined peaceful protests on Sunday in Boston. Stevens supported all of their efforts.

"I think it’s been great,” said Stevens. "I think, in paying attention from afar but also having individual conversations with everybody on our team and knowing, obviously, what’s happened has been appalling and been brutal and been hurtful and painful. I’ve said this many times, I think the NBA is amazing. I think our players are amazing. We’re lucky that we have such great people representing us with the Celtics. I can’t say enough good things.

Later Stevens added, "I couldn't be more proud to be in the NBA, to be with the Celtics and to be surrounded by the people I get to go to work with every day. All that they do, not only in front of the camera's eyes, but all that they do to lead for what's right is really impressive. I'm just honored to be a part of that team of those guys. We do talk about the idea of real leadership, right?

A lot of people can be followed and sometimes, people mislead and divide and do things in their own self-interests. The real leaders unite people and are doing things to simply promote what is right. I think that our guys are amazing in that regard and I think that extends throughout the players and coaches all across the league. It's a real inspiring group to be around.