WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Sam Packard break down how Isaiah Thomas rescued Celtics in Game 3 with a career-high 42 points, leading the Celtics to a 111-103 win over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night at TD Garden. The 42 points were the most by any Celtic in a playoff game since Rajon Rondo scored 44 against the Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals on May 30, 2012.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

 

//

Did he mean it or not?

That’s the singular question that now has to be answered by the NBA after cameras and vines caught Isaiah Thomas – in the midst of his career-best 42-point night – swinging an elbow at Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder. 

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas is congratulated by Patriots player Patrick Chung after Boston's win in Game 3. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas is congratulated by Patriots player Patrick Chung after Boston’s win in Game 3. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Did he mean it or not?

That’s the singular question that now has to be answered by the NBA after cameras and vines caught Isaiah Thomas – in the midst of his career-best 42-point night – swinging an elbow at Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder. 

In the second quarter of Friday’s 111-103 win over the Hawks in Game 3, and with tempers steadily on the rise throughout the first half, Thomas appeared to raise his left arm and swat Schroder in the head. 

After answering questions about his career-best performance when the Celtics desperately needed it, Thomas’ press conference ended with a simple question: Are you concerned about discipline from the NBA from the blow? 

“No, I’m not,” Thomas said. “I didn’t mean to hit him in the head. He got mad. He was talking. It’s playoff basketball. I’m not going to back down from anybody – and he knows that.”

The Hawks obviously had a different view of things. 

“I have seen it back in the locker room,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “My thoughts are the league will review it; the league does a good job on all things like this and they have high standards and all teams are aware of their emphasis during the playoffs. As far as an explanation, there wasn’t an explanation. There was a double technical and there was no review of the incident in the back court at the free throw line.”

Kyle Korver said Budenholzer took time before the playoffs to read to the team what might happen if you lose your cool in the playoffs and throw a punch.

“I heard that it happened,” Korver said. “I know Bud read us a really long memo before the playoffs started saying what would happen in you threw a punch. I haven’t seen the replay, I know Dennis said he got hit, but I’m sure we’ll hear and see a lot about it in the next couple days.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

From a Jonas Jerebko put-back dunk on the opening possession to three flagrant fouls, a lane violation to nullify a four-point play, Marcus Smart’s chase-down block of Al Horford and a 42-point night from Isaiah Thomas, Game 3 had it all.

Apr 22, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts after his basket against the Atlanta Hawks in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts after one of his many baskets against the Hawks in Game 3. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

From a Jonas Jerebko put-back dunk on the opening possession to three flagrant fouls, a lane violation to nullify a four-point play, Marcus Smart’s chase-down block of Al Horford and a 42-point night from Isaiah Thomas, Game 3 had it all.

More importantly, the Celtics survived Atlanta’s comeback efforts in a 111-103 victory.

All they have to do is press repeat on Sunday night at the Garden. Easier said than done, since Thomas played out of his mind and the C’s got A games from Evan Turner (17 points, 7 assists, 5 steals), Amir Johnson (15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks), Jerebko (11 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists) and Smart (11 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks).

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

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas.

After a disappointing end to the season and an underwhelming first two games of the series, Thomas was the best player on the floor Friday night. He played off the ball as more of a shooting guard and flourished. Thomas was money from beyond the arc, knocking down five of his 12 attempts from deep. With just under two minutes left to play, Thomas launched an absolute dagger from approximately 28 feet. Thomas did a fantastic job of attacking the basket, making 13 of his 15 free throws. He also may have accidentally punched Schroder in the face, so hopefully he is still active for Game 4.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Jae Crowder.

Crowder is giving everything he’s got, but clearly his shot is not falling. He finished 1-for-11 from the field for only four points. With that being said, he played excellent defense on the Hawks bigs, who only combined for 16 points. Crowder took another fall late in the fourth quarter and was slow to get up. It will be interesting to see how much Stevens relies on him in Game 4 on Sunday.

VINE OF THE NIGHT:

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: No Prince music.

The Celtics’ game operations staff must not have two ears nor souls. How do you not play one Prince song? Let’s Go Crazy is literally what you want the fans to do. Such an outrageous oversight.

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 9-of-36.

The Hawks shot only 25 percent from 3-point range on Friday night. Kyle Korver made five of those 3’s, while the rest of the team was just dreadful.

@ OF THE NIGHT: Trags is JACKED UP.

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard
Live Blog Celtics-Hawks Game 3
 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

The word on Kelly Olynyk does not sound promising for a return anytime soon, at least in this series. 

The forward missed his second straight game Friday after re-aggravating his separated right shoulder in Game 1 last Saturday night. 

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

The word on Kelly Olynyk does not sound promising for a return anytime soon, at least in this series. 

The forward missed his second straight game Friday after re-aggravating his separated right shoulder in Game 1 last Saturday night. 

“Feeling a little bit better,” Brad Stevens said before Friday’s Game 3. “From what I’ve been told, went through some shooting this morning. Didn’t feel great this afternoon when he got here. Did not go through our shootaround, walkthrough. I have not talked to Eddie since that. But because he didn’t go through and because he told me what he told me before, I just assumed, no. And that’s what I was told before.” 

Olynyk initially injured the shoulder on Feb. 10 against the Clippers and missed 12 games before returning in March. But he’s been less than 100 percent in his return. 

Stevens said Friday it’s not about Olynyk talking his way back into the lineup. It’s about giving the shoulder time to heal and Olynyk being comfortable playing with it. 

“They’ve been working around the clock with regard to extra [physical therapy], extra [stimulation], etcetera, etcetera for Kelly to get back. It’s ultimately Kelly’s call on that, based on how he feels,” Stevens said. “He’s been playing through a lot of pain. He got popped pretty good in the first and aggravated it in the first game. The one thing that I know based on how he’s been playing the last month, he would play if he could. I feel very strongly about that.

“I think any time you have an injury, you can make it worse. There’s no doubt about that. From what I’ve been told, from what I understand, he’s got some issues with it shifting and he’s in a pretty good amount of pain.” 

Olynyk’s ability to stretch the floor, play transition defense and space the Celtics offense in half-court has been sorely missed in the first two games. Stevens gave some interesting insight Friday as to how the Celtics and Isaiah Thomas might have to adjust. 

“With regard to Kelly’s shooting, we’re going to have to do some things that may be a little bit unique to generate the best looks, and the best looks may not be the traditional best looks,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to put Isaiah off the ball some. We’re going to have to drive, kick, drive, kick, drive, kick. We’re going to have to multiple attacks to paint instead of just one attack, especially because of all the attention they’re giving Isaiah at the rim. Isaiah is doing exactly what he did all during the regular season. He gets to the rim. He’s able to come off the pick-and-roll. He’s able to come off screens. He’s getting there. There’s just three or four guys there [waiting]. So, we’ve got to do a great job of staying spaced. Jonas will help that. Hopefully, we’re going to have to knock down some shots, and I believe that we will.” 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Brad Stevens stayed true to his word before Friday’s Game 3 with the Hawks at TD Garden.

Marcus Smart and Jared Sullinger will start the game on the bench while Evan Turner and Jonas Jerebko get the start.

Jonas Jerebko

Jonas Jerebko

Brad Stevens stayed true to his word before Friday’s Game 3 with the Hawks at TD Garden.

Marcus Smart and Jared Sullinger will start the game on the bench while Evan Turner and Jonas Jerebko get the start.

“We’re going to start Turner for Smart and Jerebko for Sullinger,” Stevens announced just under two hours before tip. “We’ll go with Turner, Isaiah, Jae, Jerebko and Amir.”

“Obviously, there’s certain things from the starting group, as far as how we want to play, spacing-wise,” Stevens said in explaining the move. “Those types of things factor in. Obviously, Jerebko gives you spacing, gives you some defensive versatility on the two bigs. And then Turner has been, along with Isaiah, really able to get into the paint and do certain things, and consistently be able to attack throughout the first [two] games.

“That’s that. Sully and Smart are still going to play, still going to play big parts for us. I’ve said this before about the guards, you can just kind of throw a dart with those four guards, and Smart being the fourth one tonight. They’re all going to play 30-plus minutes for us on most nights.”

The lineup of Turner, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Jerebko and Johnson haven’t exactly spent a lot of time together this season on the court.

“They’ve played a whole 33 possessions together. They’re plus-20. So, the sample size in an analytical viewpoint is not strong. But I think the one thing is you practice all year. You try different things. You’re going to have moments like this, certainly, especially with Avery out, with Kelly out where you’re going to have to do some of that. And you know what? There’s going to be groups off the bench that haven’t played much together, too.

“Any lineup with Terry and/or R.J. or both has not played very much for us. So, that’s the way it is. That’s why you practice all year and that’s why you play and find the synergy in practice. You believe in what supposed to do by doing it right and you go out and do it.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia