The Isaiah Thomas naysayers were out in full force after Wednesday night's huge Celtics win over the Orlando Magic. The NBA's smallest player was out with an injured groin for the C's 117-87 point victory in the Sunshine State. Boston put on one of their finest performances of the season as a team, and the hot takes on Thomas and his value to to the team started to pour in:
No question Celtics need Isaiah Thomas' offense, but high quality shots created by continuous ball movement tonight should be instructive.— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) December 8, 2016
11 assists on 13 buckets. Is it just me or does the ball move better without Isaiah?— Tony Massarotti (@TonyMassarotti) December 8, 2016
It's games like this that feed the frenzy for the "#Celtics would be a better team with Isaiah Thomas coming off the bench" crowd.— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) December 8, 2016
It's been a topic of discussion all week on sports radio in New England, and apparently the word got all the way back to the man himself. Thomas was none too happy about some of the assessments of his game. Via Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com:
“They gotta write something. They say the stupidest things so they get the headlines and everybody can talk about it,” Thomas said Friday night before the Celtics hosted the Toronto Raptors. “I can’t control that. At this point, I laugh about it now. Because it’s like, if you really think that, OK, that’s fine. I know what I mean to my teammates, I know what I mean to this organization and to Brad Stevens.”
When asked about the specifics of what his critics were saying, Thomas was very well aware of what was being said:
“The ball moved a little better without me. I guess so,” Thomas said before Friday’s game with an appropriate amount of cynicism. “‘They’re a better team without me. The ball moves better without me.’ I see it all.”
Isaiah thinks some of these people don't even actually believe the things they are saying, and do it just to get a reaction. He knows his importance to the Celtics, and uses the haters as fuel for his drive:
“That’s not true. So the chip on my shoulder that is what it is, I’m always going to have that and use that for motivation,” Thomas said. “But the numbers don’t lie. It is what it is. But people that say that they don’t even believe it. They go home at night, they’re not believing that. They’re just saying it to get a reaction. I’m trying my best not to react.”
Thomas' comments came before last nights game against Toronto, and boy what a difference a game makes. The C's got off to a great start behind some solid defense in the first half, holding the Raptors to 42 points through two quarters, but it didn't last. The Celtics played sloppy in the 2nd half, and they only had one tune to play on offense last night - shoot three pointers. They took 42 threes in the game, compared to just 41 2-point shots. Isaiah is really the only guy the Celtics can count on to consistently take the ball to the rack, and their already 3-point happy shooting team turns very one dimensional without Isaiah driving to the hoop.
Probably won't be hearing anyone else talking about the Celtics looking better without Isaiah Thomas after that one.— Brian Robb (@CelticsHub) December 10, 2016
I heard a lot this week about the offense running better when it's run through Al Horford, which I would absolutely love to see more of. I think the C's need to utilize Horford more in the post, but him and Isaiah have already formed a lethal combination on pick-and-rolls. Via Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer:
"Only 11 players have been used for 300 or more possessions as pick-and-roll ball handlers, according to Synergy Sports, and Thomas leads them all by scoring and assisting an average of 1.09 points per possession. One of his favorite targets is Horford, who scores 1.19 points per possession as the pick-and-roll screener."
Obviously there's always going to be a myriad of opinions on players in the NBA and any sport for that matter - and you can times that by 1000 in Boston. It wouldn't be any fun if we all agreed. Though Thomas believes that there's a lot of people who continue to count him out because of his size:
“If it was anybody else we wouldn’t be talking about that,” Thomas continued. “I’m 5-9, that’s the only reason why they say that. I’m fine with that. I know what I bring to the table. My teammates know what I bring. As long as they are happy. I’m fine. I’m not going to react. I try not to. I try to think of what Kobe said: Be a lion. Just lock in and don’t worry about what others say.”
Although Isaiah came out to address the haters this time, his game on the court usually does the talking for him. He's 8th in the NBA in scoring, and 16th in Player Efficiency Rating with a 24.7 according to basketball-reference.com.
@StoolGreenie men lie, women lie, numbers DONT!!! Let them keep hating. At this point they are just doing it for a response.— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) December 9, 2016
Related: Isaiah Thomas is the closer for the Celtics, and he 's damn good at it
Photo Credit - SI.com
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAL401 Mark Allison 12/10/2016 01:58:00 PM Tweet Edit