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WALTHAM, Mass. – He wanted it. Now he’ll get it.
At least for one night.
In all likelihood, Isaiah Thomas will finally walk onto the court Wednesday night as the starting point guard of the Boston Celtics, a feeling he has yet to experience through a total of 27 games with the team including postseason and preseason play.
“I’ll probably just start Isaiah, and maybe start Evan (Turner) with him,” Brad Stevens revealed Tuesday morning.
Special circumstances have led to this special opportunity for Thomas to potentially team up with Turner in the starting backcourt. Marcus Smart is doubtful for Wednesday’s game thanks to an illness, Avery Bradley is likely to rest, and Terry Rozier is out with a sore left knee.
The absence of those three players has opened the door for Stevens to get a clear look at the Thomas-Turner combo. Interestingly enough, it was one of Boston’s top two-man lineups a season ago.
The duo paired up for an average of 12.4 minutes per game during their 21 regular season games together. During those minutes, the Celtics outscored their opponents by an average of 3.1 points. That number ranked ninth on the team among two-man lineups that were featured in at least five games after the trade deadline.
It appears that the magic Thomas and Turner found with one another last season is resurfacing. Stevens paired them up during Monday afternoon’s practice and it yielded great results.
“They had a full day (together) yesterday,” said Jae Crowder. “It was pretty good … Playing against them was tough, trying to guard those guys. They’re playmakers.”
Crowder hit the nail on the head. Playmaking is the key factor that Thomas and Turner bring to the table. When the ball is in their hands, the C’s tend to gather positive results.
“Multiple playmakers on the floor is always a good thing,” Stevens said. “To get into the paint is a good thing.
“We’ll see how it plays itself out, if it’s one of our best combinations or if it’s something that you’ve got others that maybe fit together too, but they’re both good players.”
Thomas and Turner are both regarded as good players at the offensive end. That’s not a question. Defensively? Not so much.
But while these players lack a resounding positive reputation around the league as defenders, their teammates are confident in their abilities.
“I’ve seen them in practice defend multiple positions, so I know they can defend,” said forward Jonas Jerebko. “I don’t care about the rumors; what people think around the league about somebody can be totally different (than what’s true), I know that for a fact. That’s nothing that concerns me.”
Apparently it does not concern Stevens and the coaching staff, either. Their plan is to give Thomas his first start with the Celtics tomorrow night, with Turner right by his side.