From left, Evan Turner, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk and the rest of the Celtics must solve the Hawks.</p>
<div class=



Doc Rivers (right) and Brad Stevens now standing at opposite ends. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

What a difference three years makes.



Isaiah Thomas needs help from his teammates, which he made clear after the Celtics' Game 5 loss Tuesday night.</p>
<div class=



ATLANTA — For just the second time during the 2015-16 campaign, Isaiah Thomas failed to reach double-digits, finishing with a season-low seven points during his Celtics’ 110-83, Game 5 loss to the Hawks, Tuesday night at Phillips Arena.

Isaiah Thomas scored a season-low seven points Tuesday night. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas scored a season-low seven points Tuesday night. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

ATLANTA — For just the second time during the 2015-16 campaign, Isaiah Thomas failed to reach double-digits, finishing with a season-low seven points during his Celtics’ 110-83, Game 5 loss to the Hawks, Tuesday night at Phillips Arena.

Thomas also clocked in with a minus-33 in his 29 minutes, the worst plus-minus number of any Celtics player during a postseason game since the stat started being charted in 1985. But after the game, Thomas — whose exit from the game came after hurting his left ankle in the fourth quarter — was all about what how the Hawks played him, and how his teammates did, or didn’t, respond.

“That was their game-plan. They put two or three guys on me every time I touched the ball,” Thomas said. “Their game-plan was to let the other guys beat us. It should be a sign of disrespect to my teammates to put two on the ball every time I have it. Other guys have to step up and make plays, that’s what it comes down to. If they try and do it again in Game 6, it comes down to other guys making plays. I’m just going to try and get the ball out as quickly as possible, out of the trap, out of the two or three guys on me. But other guys have to make shots, and other guys have to make plays for us to win.

“It’s tough for me because I feel like I can score on anything. But as a point guard I have to make the right play and I got to trust my teammates. And I know once my teammates do knock down shots, or make the right play out of the double-team, i’s going to open up for me throughout the game. Today it didn’t happen. But we knew they would make adjustments, and now we have to make adjustments and other guys have to step up.”

The Hawks’ strategy was apparent early on, with Thomas not able to freelance through the Atlanta defense as he had done for much of the series. Thomas failed to score a single point in the first half, marking the third time this season that has happened. This time it lead to the Celtics scoring just 39 points, while carrying an eight-point deficit into halftime.

“A team never really did what Atlanta did [Tuesday],” Thomas said. “They really had two or three guys on me the whole time. Face-guarding me. When I got it they showed all five guys. They wasn’t worried about anybody else. Guys have to adjust. Guys have to make plays. And once we make shots, like we do at home, and make plays, like we do at home, they can’t do that.”

And when told that Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer downplayed the Hawks’ adjustment to pay more attention to Thomas, the guard chuckled and said, “He’s lying if he’s playing it down. Obviously, their job today was make others beat us. Take the ball out of my hands. When I came off of pick-and-rolls they kept two guys on me until I passed it. They didn’t do that in Game 3. They did that throughout the game, but not the whole game in Game 4. Not as much. Today was like an emphasis on it.”

Had Thomas ever experienced anything like this? So many defenders worried about just him, without much attention at all spent toward any of his teammates?

“Back in high school,” Thomas said. “They used to do box-and-one’s and stuff. But not in the NBA.”

Did he figure it out? “Yeah, I did,” Thomas quipped. “I just shot more.” If it was only that easy.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

The Hawks swarmed Isaiah Thomas in Game 5. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)The ball is squarely in Brad Stevens' court.



MIKE PETRAGLIA

BIO | ARCHIVE


With 10:14 remaining in a playoff game the Celtics trailed by 29 points, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas landed awkwardly on his left ankle, suffering a mild ankle sprain.

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

With 10:14 remaining in a playoff game the Celtics trailed by 29 points, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas landed awkwardly on his left ankle, suffering a mild ankle sprain.

“With this team, I’ve seen just enough crazy stuff to think that we might be able to get back in it and give them a chance from 12 [minutes] to nine or eight, just to see if it could happen,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens after the Game 5 loss. “He had a sub at the table when it happened, so I know that’s quite a task and quite a mountain to overcome, but we’ve all seen this team do some pretty crazy things when they’re down.”

Except, it was clear the Celtics were gassed from the second quarter on — Thomas in particular. The All-Star point guard was scoreless at the half and finished with a season-low seven points on 12 shots, not returning after the injury. We can debate whether Thomas should’ve been in the game, but what’s done is done entering Game 6.

Asked if Thomas would be ready for Game 6, Stevens added, “I’m not qualified to answer that question,” but with the season on the line in Boston on Thursday night, it’s hard to imagine Thomas won’t give it a go, even on a bum ankle. He told reporters he merely tweaked his ankle and would be playing Thursday, come hell or high water.

The question is how effective he’ll be. The C’s got a taste of what their offense may look like sans Thomas at full strength in Game 5, and the reviews came back with zero stars.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

A promising night turned into a disaster for the Celtics. 

Kent Bazemore keyed a 26-6 run in the first half to turn a 10-point Celtic lead into a 10-point Atlanta advantage. Then the Hawks caught fire in the third quarter, using an 18-1 run to blow Game 5 wide open en route to a 110-83 rout of the Celtics at Philips Arena Tuesday and a 3-2 series lead. 

Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) is defended by Atlanta Hawks forward Kent Bazemore (24) in the second quarter in game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) is defended by Atlanta Hawks forward Kent Bazemore (24) in the second quarter in Game 5 Tuesday. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

A promising night turned into a disaster for the Celtics. 

Kent Bazemore keyed a 26-6 run in the first half to turn a 10-point Celtic lead into a 10-point Atlanta advantage. Then the Hawks caught fire in the third quarter, using an 18-1 run to blow Game 5 wide open en route to a 110-83 rout of the Celtics at Philips Arena Tuesday and a 3-2 series lead. 

Isaiah Thomas had one of the worst nights in a Celtics uniform, going scoreless in the first half and finishing with just seven points on 3-of-12 shooting before leaving with what the team called a “mild” left ankle sprain with 10 minutes left in the game. 

With Paul Millsap in check at 10 points, Mike Scott came off the bench to lead Atlanta with 17. Bazemore and Jeff Teague had 16 for the Hawks, who went 14-of-36 from 3-point range. 

The Celtics started off nearly as cold in Game 5 as they did their last game in Atlanta. But unlike Game 2, they didn’t fall behind 21 in the first six minutes. They did open the game 2-for-10 but Marcus Smart continued his 3-point rhythm from Game 4, knocking down a pair of threes in the opening quarter. The two teams combined to miss 18 of their first 22 shots.

The Celtics used a three from Jae Crowder with 31.1 seconds left in the first quarter to reclaim the lead. Terry Rozier hit a circus bank shot on a drive to the basket to give Boston a 20-15 lead after one quarter. 

Al Horford (0-for-8) and Paul Millsap (0-for-4) combined to miss their first 12 shots of the game before a layup by Millsap with six minutes left in the second quarter. The Celtics built a 29-19 lead on the ice cold shooting of the Hawks.

Then the game turned suddenly and dramatically on a 26-6 Hawks run, sparked by Bazemore, who drilled three 3-pointers in the surge. Mike Scott gave Atlanta a 32-30 lead on a turnaround with 3:40 left in the second quarter. The Celtics quickly regained the lead but the Hawks answered with 16 of the next 18 points for a 45-35 lead. The Hawks were not threatened the rest of the way and led 47-39 at the half. 

Bazemore was 5-of-10 from the field and 4-of-7 from deep in the first half and single-handedly turned the momentum of the game for the Hawks. Atlanta was kept in the game by Boston relying too heavily on the three. They missed 14 of their 18 tries from beyond the arc. 

Isaiah Thomas, as he was at Golden State on April 1, was scoreless in the first half, missing all four shots in 18 minutes. He missed a floater to start the second half. But his second floater of the half fell just over a minute later for his first basket. It started a 7-0 Boston run to cut the Atlanta lead to five, 53-48. The Celtics kept it within range at 66-57. Then the bottom fell out. 

The Hawks exploded on an 18-1 run to open an 84-58 lead as the Celtics looked tired and discouraged on defense. The Hawks made five of their first 10 3-point attempts in the third to blow game open. The Celtics went on a field goal drought of over five minutes before a Crowder three with 48 seconds to go in the third. 

Adding to Boston’s epically bad night was the sight of Thomas limping and heading directly to the locker room with just over 10 minutes left in the game. He landed awkwardly on his left foot on a drive to the lane, landing on his left foot and then turning the ankle. 

The Celtics will try to regroup and extend the series to a seventh game when they play Game 6 Thursday back in Boston. The game is set for an 8 p.m. start at TD Garden. 

For a compete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on. 

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Jared Sullinger 

If there’s something they can carry into Game 6 Thursday, it’s the way Sullinger ran the floor and played hard on both ends, making it tough on Al Horford and Paul Millsap. He had 10 points and three rebounds on the night. 

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas

Hasn’t happened much this season but their leading scorer couldn’t carry the load in Game 5. Even before his ankle injury, Thomas struggled badly to get his shot and when he did, it was with no success. 

 

VIDEO OF THE NIGHT

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia