BOSTON — When Isaiah Thomas wasn’t on the floor, the Celtics looked like a whole different team Wednesday night, and not in a flattering way.
Thomas played 32:43, and he led the C’s with 26 points and six assists. He also was a minus-10, which certainly isn’t ideal, but that was noticeably better than some of his teammates, especially those who played during Cleveland’s monster run to start the second quarter.
The Cavs went on a 22-4 run over the first six-plus minutes of the second frame, which essentially put the game out of reach for Boston before halftime.
That, coincidentally, was when Thomas was getting a breather after playing the entire first quarter. He entered the game before the run was over, but most of the damage already had been done.
“We have to find other ways to score the basketball,” guard Avery Bradley said when asked about the team’s struggles to score without Thomas. “But it’s not just offense, it’s defense. Our defense has to be better. We can make shots all we want, but if we’re not defending the basketball we’re still going to lose the game.”
And that’s exactly what happened in Cleveland’s 114-91 win at TD Garden.
Let’s look at a few more notes from the Cavaliers’ dominant win.
— Thomas now sits in eighth place on the Celtics’ single-season points list with 2,092 points after passing Sam Jones, Paul Pierce and Larry Bird. He also now has 68 games with 20-plus points, and only Kevin McHale and John Havlicek (twice) have more in Celtics history.
— It’s pretty much a forgone conclusion either James Harden or Russell Westbrook will receive the MVP award this season, but the Celtics are hoping the voters give Thomas a look.
The C’s made the case for Thomas to be the MVP and make the All-NBA squad in their “Club Green Newsletter” before Wednesday’s game. And, as we pointed out above, they might have a point considering how much he’s meant to the team.
— Before tip-off, Boston center Al Horford was honored with the 2017 Red Auerbach Award, which goes to the player or coach who “best exemplifies the spirit of what it means to be a Celtic through exceptional performance on and off the court,” according to a team press release.
“Al embodies all of the qualities that define being a true Celtic. He focuses all of his energy on winning, being a great teammate and making a difference in the community,” Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca said in the press release. “We are fortunate that Al chose to join the Boston Celtics, and are proud of his successes on and off the court.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images