BOSTON — Isaiah Thomas is playing like an All-Star this season, and he finally received the recognition he deserved. But if you think the Celtics guard is content after his first-ever All-Star appearance, you don’t know him very well.
Thomas, who scored a game-high 27 points in Boston’s 112-107 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, still carries a massive chip on his shoulder. Case in point: In a radio interview Thursday, Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough admitted trading Thomas to the Celtics in February 2015 was a “mistake.”
The 5-foot-9 point guard was asked after Thursday’s game if he had heard McDonough’s comments, and the answer was a resounding “yes.”
“I’m starting to get more and more respect, I guess,” Thomas said. “It feels good to hear him finally say that. I’m focused here on the Celtics, I’m not focused on what happened in the past, but when I saw that (Thursday) morning, it was nice to see someone say something like that.”
Thomas is averaging 21.6 points and 6.8 assists per game, both career highs, and is starting to be noticed around the NBA. But the 27-year-old admitted that after earning an All-Star nod, he’s eyeing the next level of greatness.
“My next goal, I want to be All-NBA,” Thomas said. “I always try to find things to motivate me. I’m a goal-oriented guy that just tries to reach all the goals — not just individually, but as a team as well, and that’s my next step. I want to be All-NBA.”
Let’s hit a few other notes from Celtics-Bucks:
— Thomas hit Jae Crowder with an insane no-look, behind-the-head pass late in the fourth quarter, leading to Crowder’s game-sealing 3-pointer. Thomas seemed to know where Crowder was going to be and said he has developed a pretty good rapport with the swingman.
“We played together a lot last (season) in that second unit and now (this season) with the starting group, where I just know where he is at all times,” Thomas said. “He’s kind of my bail-out guy. I know when I’m attacking, he finds the open area, and we connect. I think sometimes it just happens to be like that where you click with a guy even though we don’t work on the things. We come together, and it just happens.”
— The C’s also got a nice boost from big man Amir Johnson, who tallied 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and added eight rebounds. It was Johnson’s first double-digit game since early January, when he scored 10 or more points in seven consecutive games from Jan. 4 to Jan. 15.
“I thought he was really ready,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Johnson. “I thought he was really ready and really engaged. I think a great way to gauge that is the offensive rebound tip-dunks. Just the energy around the rim was excellent, and we need him.”
— The Celtics sure enjoy some home cookin’. Boston’s win at TD Garden in its first home game since Feb. 10 was the team’s ninth consecutive home victory, a streak that dates all the way to Jan. 6. The C’s are 18-10 at home this season.
That’s good news for the Green and White, as they’ll play their next four games and seven of their next nine at home.
— TD Garden got a famous visitor Thursday night, as New England Patriots cornerback and Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler sat courtside to take in the action. As expected, he received a warm welcome from the home crowd.
— Joe Johnson became a free agent Thursday, and several teams, including the Celtics, reportedly have expressed interest in the former Brooklyn Nets veteran. Bucks head coach Jason Kidd coached Johnson during his one season with the Nets in 2013-14 and spoke highly of the seven-time All-Star.
“Joe is a true competitor. I wish him the best wherever he ends up,” Kidd said before the game. “He’s not afraid of having the ball late, so (the team that signs him) gets a closer. And so, wherever he ends up, they got a chance to win.”
Thumbnail photo via Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports Images