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It's that time again, folks - time for the CelticsLife Awards for the 2016-17 Boston Celtics season. We'll be covering a wide variety of categories such as Best Individual Performance (which this article happens to begin with) as well as Best Game, Best Performance in a Loss, Game of the Year, Play of the Year, and more - and with this year's deep run into the playoffs, many awards will be split into regular season and playoff categories as well. So, with that out of the way, let's dive into the first of the awards, Best Individual Performance, Regular Season.
CANDIDATES, BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE, REGULAR SEASON

Avery Bradley - 10.29.16: The season was hardly underway before Avery decided to show off his new offensive chops, helping guide the Celts to a 104-98 victory over Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets with a 31-point, 11 rebound performance powered by his EIGHT of eleven three pointers.

Al Horford 12.02.16 - This was probably Horford's most outstanding game of the season, though if you listen to his detractors it should be his nightly performance. Of course that's ridiculous, but that doesn't mean this isn't one of the most well-rounded outings logged by a Celtic this season. 28 points and eight boards is nothing to sneeze at, and when you throw in SIX blocks, well - let's just say I'm glad I wasn't an Orlando Magic fan that night.


Isaiah Thomas, 12.20.16 - While it's probably true in the big picture that beating the Memphis Grizzlies isn't quite the achievement it might have been in recent years, to put up career highs (44 points!) while dishing six assists is still hugely impressive, especially when your previous career high was already north of 40 points. If there's an argument against this night winning the award, it's likely best made by Thomas himself, with not one but TWO more comparable or better nights in the regular season.


Isaiah Thomas, 12.30.16 - Speak of the devil - or is it King in the Fourth? - Thomas seemed to ascend to an almost superhuman level in the latter half of December, the pinnacle of which in the regular season was this game versus the Miami Heat. Thomas broke multiple records for the franchise this night, and we witnessed a truly historic performance unfold. He dropped 52 points on the hapless Miami squad unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of IT's big night, including 29 in the fourth quarter alone, sparking the now-legendary nickname.


Kelly Olynyk, 01.13.17 - This might be the quintessential "Aggro Kelly" game that makes assessing the right deal for his next contract so difficult. Olynyk switching between attacking the basket and shooting treys without hesitation (or pump fakes) was far too much for the Atlanta Hawks to handle, and was easily the engine to bring Boston the win behind Kelly's 26 points - including four of five from deep - and eight rebounds.


Isaiah Thomas, 02.01.17 - Isaiah likes to make things difficult for his enemies, and at least as far as making a selection for Best Individual Performance is concerned, evidently for at least some of his fans, too, at least in this kind of situation. It's certainly a problem we at CelticsLife love to have, so watching him sink the Toronto Raptors behind his SECOND 44-point performance of the season - with seven boards thrown in for good measure - was another solid candidate for the award.


Jae Crowder, 03.26.17 - Jae has moments where he flashes star potential, and the matchup with an improbably surging Miami Heat was certainly one of those nights. There's probably no way the Celts win this game without Crowder's 25-point, six rebound performance, who showed fans and foes alike what he can do when fully healthy and locked in.


Justin Quinn: I find it hard to give the award to anyone but Thomas. His 52-point outing versus Miami was an instant classic, and by far the most outstanding regular season performances by a Celtic this season. In fact, the only player who should really be in consideration is Thomas with a pair of 44-point nights for good measure, but if I had to offer another player second place, I’d still be in a jam. Olynyk’s performance against Atlanta is one of the best argument why we won’t be able to afford him after this season - but you could make the same argument with a longer-term window about Avery’s 31 point, 11 rebound night versus the Hornets in October.

Mark Allison: Yeah, Isaiah’s 52 against the Heat was easily the most impressive performance of the regular season. His 29 points in the 4th quarter was absolutely ridiculous and it made that game an instant classic. That particular performance coronated him the King in the Fourth and is one I will never forget. His 44 points a little over a week earlier against the Grizzlies in Memphis would be my runner-up as well. IT shot an ultra-efficient 62% and I chalked it up as a big FU game to all the the folks who said the Celtics were better off without Thomas just a few games prior after they beat the Houston Rockets without him.

Josh Coyne: Going against the grain on this one. I was in the building for Isaiah’s 44 point romp against the Toronto and it blew my mind. The Little Guy showcased his unrivaled ability to create space in between defenders and make shots over much bigger bodies in an unbelievable fashion. He galvanized a passionate response from the TD Garden crowd and took the team over the line. Main reason I chose this over the Heat performance though? It was the Raptors, who at the time were a serious threat to Boston’s seeding; this game really mattered.

WINNER: Isaiah Thomas, 12.30.16 - 52 points, two boards, and one steal on 15 of 26 shooting, including NINE of 13 from three. All hail the King in the Fourth!

NEXT UP: Best Individual Performance, Playoffs
For more stories about the 2016-17 season on CelticsLife, click here. For more by Justin, click here.



Photo via  Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 6/08/2017 02:12:00 PM Edit
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