BOSTON — At just 5-foot-9, Isaiah Thomas’ success on the court defies the odds. But the Boston Celtics guard’s play in the 2017 NBA playoffs has been flat-out incredible.
This notion continued Sunday, when Thomas scored 33 points in the Celtics’ 123-111 win over the Washington Wizards in Game 1 of their second-round series.
Thomas shined in Game 1 despite difficult circumstances. He attended his sister’s funeral services in Washington on Saturday and didn’t return to Boston until 4 a.m. ET on Sunday morning.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens continues to watch in awe as his star guard excels despite considerable adversity.
“I’ve just been in continual amazement the last couple weeks with his ability to function on the basketball court and excel on the basketball court,” Stevens said of Thomas. “And today’s like just another chapter of that. Just amazed.”
Thomas even garnered praise from Wizards coach Scott Brooks.
“I think the biggest thing you can say is that he’s the biggest winner,” Brooks said. “One of the biggest winners in this league. He plays with everything he has, that’s what you want your players to do. Incredible talent, one of the best players in basketball.”
Thomas paced Boston’s offense, which got off to a painfully slow start Sunday as Washington jumped out to a 16-0 lead to open the game. But as has been a theme all season, Thomas and the Celtics showed incredible resiliency and picked up the comeback win.
“We know it’s not always going to be peaches and cream all the time,” Thomas said. “We’ve always played well with our backs against the wall. (Sunday) we definitely didn’t want to be down 16-0 but it happens, and we just locked in even more. We settled down, we executed on offense and we got stops and that’s how we got back into the game.”
Here are some other notes from Celtics-Wizards Game 1.
–Al Horford nearly notched a triple-double, posting 21 points to go along with 10 assists and nine rebounds. Horford was especially strong down the stretch. After Washington trimmed the lead to three with a little more than six minutes remaining, Horford scored seven straight points to help Boston extend the lead.
“He’s one of the best all-around bigs in the league,” Brooks said of Horford. “Top two or three passing big in the league and he shoots threes. He’s a problem, and you have to figure out the best way to maintain what he brings to the floor. Ten assists from your five spot doesn’t happen often.”
–The Celtics’ success from beyond the arc was a huge factor in the Game 1 win. Boston matched its franchise record of 19 3-pointers made in a single playoff game.
–Jae Crowder had a career night for the Celtics. His 24 points and six 3-pointers both were playoff career highs.
“Jae was huge for us tonight making some timely threes and just all the other things he’s able to do on the court defensively, getting rebounds and hustling,” Horford said of Crowder.
–Avery Bradley continues to roll for the Celtics. His 18 points in Game 1 marked the third consecutive game in which he’s scored 18-plus points.
“He’s really good,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal said of Bradley. “He’s a great defender and has a knack for the ball. You can’t mess with the ball when he’s guarding you. You have to keep things simple. We got to be on the lookout for him. He has improved on the offensive end but defense is his specialty.”
–The Wizards had three players record double-doubles. John Wall (20 points, 16 rebounds), Marcin Gortat (16 points, 13 rebounds) and Otto Porter Jr. (16 points, 11 rebounds) all excelled for Washington.
–Kelly Olynyk helped weather the storm for the Celtics in the first quarter, scoring ten points in the frame.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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