Isaiah Thomas gets his revenge, Celtics beat Suns 115-110
The Celtics picked up their first win of the Isaiah Thomas era against Thomas' old team on Monday night, beating the Suns 115-110. The Celts were led by Avery Bradley (23 points, 6 steals, 4 rebounds, 3 assists), Brandon Bass (18 and 6) and Thomas himself (21 points, 7 assists). Meanwhile, the Suns got a combined 41 points from their new look backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. This game told a fairly familiar tale for Celtics fans, as the team got off to a great start before threatening to piss it all away. Only this time, they had a closer. Let's talk about it.
Want to know what offensive efficiency looks like? Because if you do, look no further than the Celtics 1st half box score. 67 points, 24-44 shooting (54.5%), 10-17 from three (58.8%), 9-11 from the line (81.8%), 18 assists on 24 made baskets. They were dialed in from both deep and in close, and didn't settle for mid-range jumpers all that often. Any half where you try 17 threes and 11 free throws is a good half, as it shows that you're prioritizing high efficiency shots. The Celtics were led by Bass (17 points), Bradley (15 points including a 5-5 start) and Thomas (10 points and six assists), and led 67-50 at the break. The 67 points matched the highest scoring output of the season for the Celtics in one half -- a mark they set in the very first half of the season against the Nets.
The Celtics expanded their lead to 20 early in the third quarter before the Suns got red hot for about a four minute span, going on a quick 16-2 run to cut the lead to 6. However, Phoenix then missed 14 straight shots, allowing the Celtics to stabilize and grow the lead back to 12 (if the Celtics had played even semi-well during this time they would have broken the game wide open). By the time the curtain closed on the third quarter the Celtics were up 89-79.
The 4th quarter was much like the third, with the Celtics playing lazy, uninspired ball for most of the quarter. At one point the Cs turned the ball over four consecutive possessions, as Thomas led the way, turning it over three of those times. Despite not playing particularly well, Phoenix cut the lead all the way to three points on several occasions.
With the game seemingly hanging in the balance late, Bradley and Thomas came up huge. With three minutes remaining AB came up with his 6th steal of the game, and then drilled a three in transition to push the lead back to six. Then, after Phoenix cut it to 1 with under two to play, Thomas got his revenge: drilling a huge three-and-one, and then staring down the Suns bench for good measure. Thomas then hit a tough shot at the rim the next time down to put the final nail in Phoenix's coffin. For the first time in awhile, the Celtics had a closer at the end of a close game..and it was fun to see him in action down the stretch, especially after he struggled so much early in the quarter. The Celtics left the west coast with a win, and pulled within 2 games of the final playoff spot in the process.
The Cs are now 21-33 on the season, they return home to play the remnants of the New York Knicks on Wednesday night in Boston.