Isaiah Thomas had one more dagger to deliver Wednesday night.
The Celtics point guard erupted yet again at TD Garden, dropping 44 points on the Toronto Raptors — including 19 in the fourth quarter — to lift Boston to a 109-104 comeback win.
The victory gave the Celtics a 1 1/2 game lead over the Raptors for the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed. That’s pretty impressive, considering the C’s trailed Toronto by two games in the standings when these teams met Jan. 10.
After that contest, a Raptors win, Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas threw an apparent slight at the Celtics, remarking that “they are racing for second place” while “we are racing for first.”
Apparently Thomas put that quote on his bulletin board.
After Wednesday’s win, the All-Star guard specifically mentioned Valanciunas’ comments and proceeded to put the big man on blast.
“I remember when Valanciunas said we were trying to get to second and they were going for first,” Thomas said, via MassLive’s Jay King. “So, it’s the other way around now. They’re trying to chase for second. Now we’re going for first.
“So, words come back to bite you if you can’t back it up.”
It’s not the first time Thomas has used a perceived slight as motivation, nor will it be the last. But that strategy clearly is working for the 27-year-old, who is averaging an absurd 40.7 points over his last three games and has the Celtics chasing the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lead them by just 2 1/2 games in the East.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images