Isaiah Thomas’ Strong Playoff Debut Silver Lining In Celtics’ Loss To Cavs


Apr 19, 2015

For the Boston Celtics to have any hope of upsetting the Cleveland Cavaliers this postseason, Isaiah Thomas will need to be an impact player.

The Celtics came out on the losing end of Game 1, dropping a 113-100 decision Sunday in Cleveland, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort by Thomas, who turned in a podium-game performance in his NBA playoff debut.

The 5-foot-9 point guard logged 32 minutes off the bench in the loss — second on the team behind Evan Turner’s 34 — and notched his first double-double in a Celtics uniform, finishing with 22 points, 10 assists and five rebounds. The point and assist totals both were team highs, as was Thomas’ plus-5 rating.

Thomas displayed his patented ability to get to the rim through traffic, most often earning him trips to the foul line (from which he went 8-for-8). The Cavs were able to limit these drives as the game wore on, however. All three of Thomas’ second-half makes came from the perimeter, and his three field-goal attempts from up close over the final two quarters all were blocked.

Still, Thomas continued to be effective. He scored five consecutive points as part of a 14-0 run that cut Cleveland’s lead to six late in the third quarter, but that ended up being the closest the Celtics pulled. The Cavs scored the final nine points of the frame and never looked back.

“In the first half, we moved the ball well,” Thomas said. “Our defense was kind of weak in the first half, but in the second half, our defense picked up, and then our offense kind of slowed down. Coach (Brad Stevens) said if we just put 48 minutes together, two halves together, we can give ourselves a chance of winning the next game.”

The one glaring negative of Thomas’ maiden voyage into the postseason came in the ball control department. Thomas turned over the ball a team-high five times in the contest, including three in a 45-second span coinciding with the aforementioned Cleveland run that all but buried the C’s.

The Celtics turned over the ball 14 times in total, resulting in 20 Cavaliers points.

“One thing we’ve got to do is cut down on our turnovers,” Thomas said. “If we cut down on those, we give ourselves a chance to score each and every time down. We had some key turnovers in that third quarter, too, where they got out and running and got easy baskets. One thing about that team, they’re very talented. On top of that, they were making tough shots — you can’t give them easy baskets. I think if we eliminate those, we can sneak one in Game 2.”

Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images

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