Playoffs 2017: East Finals -- Celtics (1) vs. Cavaliers (2)
Boston Celtics looking to move on without Isaiah Thomas
CLEVELAND — It’s hard to imagine a tougher situation for the Boston Celtics to be in here in the conference finals. They’re down 2-0, having lost Game 2 on their home floor by 44 points. The next two games are in Cleveland, where the Cavs are 17-1 in playoff games within the Eastern Conference over the last three seasons.
And to top it off, the Celtics have lost All-NBA point guard Isaiah Thomas for the remainder of the playoffs.
As they prepare for Game 3 on Sunday (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT), the Celtics’ thoughts are obviously with Thomas, whose postseason began with the death of his sister and ended with him unable to be on the floor.
“We just want to see him healthy,” Avery Bradley said before the Celtics’ shootaround Sunday morning. “He’s helped us so much this year and I know he wants to be here to continue to help us, but he has to make sure that he’s healthy.”
Thomas is not with the team in Cleveland. He’s scheduled to see multiple specialists regarding his right hip injury to determine the best course of action. Surgery is a possibility.
Thomas originally injured the hip in March and reaggravated it in Game 6 of the conference semifinals against Washington. So he was playing through pain as he led the Celtics with 29 points and 12 assists in Game 7.
“He’s had a remarkable year through some really difficult circumstances,” Celtics coach Brad Steven said. “We all draw inspiration from his presence, knowing what he’s going through.”
Regarding the hip injury, Stevens saw in Game 2 that Thomas’ “burst” was gone.
“There were times where you could see he was really struggling,” Stevens said, “but probably nothing like the other night.”
Marcus Smart will start Game 3 in Thomas’ place and Stevens indicated that he’s leaning toward starting Amir Johnson instead of Gerald Green on the frontline. There may be no stopping the juggernaut that the Cavs have become, but it starts with putting Game 2 behind them.
The Celtics need to move on to the next game … and to the next play.
“We were sitting in the video session yesterday and we didn’t watch very much,” Stevens said. “But one of the things I wanted to show them was, when we missed wide-open shots, how that affected our mindset in transition defense. And then we had tremendous defensive possessions where they hit tremendous shots. And I think being able to, emotionally move on to the next play, regardless of circumstance, is really important.”
They’ll also have to move on without Isaiah Thomas.
“He’s had a great season for our team,” Bradley said, “and I feel like it’s our job to go out there and make sure that we finish it the right way.”
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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