Boston Celtics Take Game 3 With Thomas Scoring 42, Still Alive In Series

It took 42 points from Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas, but Boston gets by Atlanta in Game 3 to force a Game 5. With the 111-103 victory against the Hawks, the Celtics gave fans a reason to have hope and believe that Boston could at the very least make this an unforgettable series even if eliminated from playoff contention. Everyone stepped up, including the rookies, Terry Rozier and RJ Hunter. Their contributions and the time they spent on the floor, allowed key players to rest, and their production on both ends of the floor certainly didn’t go unnoticed.

For the first time in the series, things got physical and emotions were running high. With their backs against the wall, the Celtics were not going to back down, and Jonas Jerebko made sure of it with his early dunk off a missed three point shot by Thomas. The first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game, as the physicality between both teams was reminiscent to the style of play what was expected in the 1980’s.

Isaiah Thomas’ 42 point performance last night earned him a spot on a list of legends that includes: Larry Bird, John Havlicek, JoJo White, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen, who all scored 40+ points in a playoff game in a Celtics uniform. Thomas showcased what he is capable of, and his offensive game is crucial to Boston’s success in the series, and the next if they get that far. With Evan Turner being the point guard, and Jonas Jerebko spacing the floor, which opened up lanes to the basket, Thomas had room to operate in the half court and ultimately found his rhythm early in the game.

Brad Stevens’ lineup changes proved to be effective as Turner and Jerbko made the best of their starting roles in Game 3. Turner supplied offense while Jerebko’s hustle, defense, and key made baskets pushed the Celtics over the top to take the victory. As previously stated, the lineup at the beginning of the game spaced the floor, allowing Boston to score at will in the first half and late in the fourth quarter.

Now being down 2-1 in the series, Game 4 becomes pivotal as it’s a must win for Boston. Pending on an Isaiah Thomas suspension, the Garden is going to be rocking as momentum is currently on the Celtics side. If Thomas is a go and cleared to play, expect to see Brad Stevens continue with the lineups he had throughout the game last night. When spread thin, the Hawks defense caves, making it easy for Amir Johnson to score points in the paint.

Game 3 exposed the Hawks’ weaknesses. Similar to the Celtics earlier woes in the series, Atlanta doesn’t have a go-to scorer down the stretch, unless you consider Kyle Korver to be that clutch player who can win games for your team on a nightly basis. Boston’s stifling defense kept many of the Hawks players at bay in the closing minutes of the game, and if they can keep up their defensive intensity, this series could become very interesting after Game 4.

At this point all we can do is sit and wait. The NBA is reviewing the hit that initiated the physicality between both teams. Thomas is facing a possible suspension, but theres no evidence to suggest that his swing of the arm to Schroder was intentional. However, it’s up to the league, and unfortunately, the Celtics fate is not in their hands. The next 12 to 24 hours could be what decides the outcome of tomorrow’s game, but until then, let’s enjoy this victory, and a performance by Isaiah Thomas that won’t soon be forgotten.

 

Celtics’ Legendary 2nd Half Caps Off Great Season

Legends from the 1966, 1976, and 1986 Celtics championship teams were in attendance last night to be honored at half-time for their contributions to the legacy and dynasty that spanned four decades from 1957 to 1986. How will the 2016 Celtics team be remembered? That will be determined in the upcoming weeks throughout the playoffs, but the final game in the regular season was a night to remember, and maybe even awakened the ghosts from the old Boston Garden. The Celtics found themselves going back to what got them into playoff contention all season; tenacious defense.

Embarrassed at halftime, giving up 62 points to the Miami Heat and being down by 24, Boston found a way to revive the Celtics mystique and display to fans that a return to greatness might not be too far away. Going on a 20-0 run in the 3rd quarter, highlighted by only giving up 5 points on defense, the Celtics turned the table on the Miami Heat who looked completely in shock heading into the 4th quarter. Boston’s stifling defense that had been absent of late and notably in the first half, shut down Miami’s offense, with Joe Johnson being the only Heat player to score in the quarter.

Everyone stepped up for the Celtics. Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Evan Turner, Jonas Jerebko, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart to name a few, came out at half on a mission. No way was this team going to be an embarrassment in front of Kevin McHale, Bill Russell, JoJo White, John Havlicek, and Sam Jones who all won multiple championships in Celtics uniforms. While there was no formal passing of the torch, the 2016 Celtics at least showed fans a glimpse of what they’re capable of.

More inspiring to watch was the return of intensity and excitement in this team. After the loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Boston had looked as if the wind was knocked out of their sails. There was no energy, no display of confidence, or any heart. Seeing Evan Turner getting fired up after an altercation with Goran Dragic was amazing, as Evan usually has an even keel demeanor. His fire led the second unit late in the 3rd quarter and into the 4th. Isaiah Thomas capped the comeback off with a clutch three point shot to extend the lead to 10 with less than a minute remaining in the game.

Unfortunately, despite the 26 point comeback. Boston was unable to lock up home court advantage in the first round. Atlanta losing to Washington was the worst scenario for the Celtics as now they’ll have to fight in a 7 game series against the Hawks, who are no stranger to deep playoff runs. This will be a very difficult matchup for the men in green, especially since Atlanta’s roster has a similar build to Boston.

The first game of the first round is Saturday at 7 pm. If Boston can build off last night’s win and carry that momentum into Atlanta, there is no doubt that they can steal one of the first two games on the road. It will require great defense and execution on offense to defeat the Hawks, but now we’ll really see what this Celtics team is made of.

Boston has talked about not being respected all season. So now let’s see if they’re willing to fight for that respect. Finishing 5th in the East was a disappointment, but not a death sentence for this young team by any stretch. Play with passion, energy, and determination, and no one will stop you. Isaiah Thomas and company with have to dig deep to find those qualities, and look to themselves for the greatness that’s within.