Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas was dejected following a Game 6 loss to the Hawks. . (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)
After spending 20 minutes with a towel draped over his head in front of his locker and after emptying his tank for six games, Isaiah Thomas had to get up the energy to walk to the postgame podium.
He did so with red eyes, the product of emotion and tears following a 104-92 loss to the Hawks in Game 6 that suddenly ended his breakout season and began an offseason of questions.
“It was 2-2, we went down their and they made an adjustment to try and do whatever they can to stop me and guys continued to play through it and that’s what I love about this group,” said Thomas, who had a team-leading 25 points on 9-of-24 shooting. “Guys continued to shoot their shot with confidence, it’s just we couldn’t make enough plays. They made more plays than us. There was game where they went on that third quarter run, like its tough to get back into the game especially against a good team. So, we’ve got to just learn from these battles, knowing that nobody said it was going to be easy, its tough to win a series and we know that. It was tough to even win two games. This should hurt everybody and we will come back next year even stronger.”
But for the second straight game, Boston had no answers when they threw two and three bodies at Thomas, in an effort to force others to pick up the slack.
But this time, unlike after Game 5, Thomas was calling out his teammates. He was praising them.
“Yes, its very emotional for me, just because we gave it our all,” Thomas said.” We never put our head down, like I said this group of guys is something special. I mean I played, I gave it my all so that’s why it hurts that much more. I wish I could have done more, but it just happened to be like that. So, it is tough on me though.”
Thomas is hopeful this isn’t the last go-round with a group that won 48 games and came within a whisker of the No. 3 seed in the East.
“That’s just the business of the NBA. One thing I do know, I ride with these guys to the wheels fall off, I mean this was a special group,” Thomas said. “Hopefully we can all stick together and have something special inthe future but, I love those guys in the locker room and hopefully we can keep this together.”
Thomas hopes the loud crowd and the way the core group played makes Boston a destination for free agents on the market.
“I mean our fans are amazing, this city is a sports town,” Thomas said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, when you do get to experience what Boston Celtics basketball is about, it’s like no other organization. So, I mean as long as we keep getting better, hopefully guys will choose Boston as a city they want to play in.”