Isaiah Thomas (4) drives to the basket past Atlanta Hawks forward Taurean Prince (12) during the first half at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)
An ugly defeat to the Atlanta Hawks 114-98 wasn’t the only Celtics’ loss on Monday night.
Isaiah Thomas saw his 43 game streak of 20 or more points come to an end against the Hawks in a 19-point performance on a dreadful shooting night for the C’s. Boston shot just 39.1 percent on the night from the field.
Thomas, who had just two points in the fourth quarter, went 4-for-21 from the field. And the only reason he came within a point of extending his streak to 44 games was his 10-for-10 effort from the free throw line. He also went just 1-for-6 from beyond the 3-point arc. He still led the team in scoring.
“Tonight was just an off night for me,” said Thomas. “You have those, and we played Toronto and they showed two or three guys, I can’t run through the whole team.”
It was an all around frustrating night for the Celtics.
“We’re not gonna hit every shot every game,” said Jaylen Brown, who shot 6-for-10 to add 15 points. “But I do expect us to play a little bit better than what we did.”
Avery Bradley made his return to the lineup, playing 15 minutes in the first half. He didn’t see any floor time when the Celtics were outscored 63-51.
“I just feel like we didn’t play hard enough,” Bradley said. “In the second half they played harder than us. They punked us.”
The shooting was the obvious problem on Monday night, but it wasn’t the only focus for the Celtics to improve on.
“If there’s one thing I’d like us to get back to it’s taking care of the ball at the level we were before the break,” said head coach Brad Stevens.
Thomas scored only two points in the fourth quarter, uncharacteristic of his recent late game dramatics. This comes after struggling as well late in the loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.
“The whole world knows what time it is in the fourth quarter and they’re game-planning to stop me,” Thomas said.
Thomas also saw his rivalry with Hawks’ guard Dennis Schroder mellow on the court as Al Horford and Dwight Howard mixed things up in the third quarter, and Howard was eventually ejected.
Thomas wasn’t interested in talking about his rival guard after the game.
“You keep bringing him up,” he said. “I’m done talking about that guy. There’s nothing. He’ll probably say something over there, I don’t know.”
Stevens had more concerns than just Thomas in the loss.
“I’m not worried about Isaiah,” said Stevens. “I’m worried about how we’re playing”
Along with shooting issues, the Celtics rebounding woes continued to be prominent as Thomas was the team’s leading rebounder through three quarters while Horford struggled against his former team. Horford finished with six rebounds while Thomas led the team with seven.
With the 20-point run coming to an end on the same night Thomas was honored pre-game with the Eastern Conference player of the month award, the point guard isn’t upset about the streak being snapped.
“I’ll break it again,” Thomas said.