The Celtics have gone where no other team has gone in NBA playoff history.
Not even the Golden State Warriors of the last two NBA finals appearances have mastered the art of the 3-pointer the way these Celtics have.
Good thing, too, because most teams down 16-0 and 20-3 the way these Celtics were Sunday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis against Washington would have zero chance of coming back.
And most players who got in on a red-eye nine hours before Game 1 after attending his sister’s funeral would have absolutely no ability to play let alone scoring a game-high 33 points in leading his team back to a 123-111 win.
“I got in at 4 a.m. I tried to get as much sleep as I could on the flight and then when I got home this morning,” Isaiah Thomas said of his cross-country flight from Seattle. “It’s tough, but it’s the playoffs so there are no excuses. I decided to play and I just tried to give it all for my team and we came out with the win.”
But these Celtics are all about making history as Avery Bradley reminded us after Game 5 against the Bulls.
The Celtics in the first round set a new NBA playoff series record with 76 three pointers. They started slowly in the first two games against the Bulls but then started to warm up from beyond the arc. In Games 4 and 5, they were 19-of-77 combined. On Friday, they were 16-of-39. Then it really all clicked Sunday. They converted 19-of-39 from beyond the arc.
Are the Celtics finally finding their level from beyond the arc?
“Hope not. Hope we still have some level to find,” Brad Stevens said. “But we dug ourselves a pretty big hole shooting it in the first round; we did not shoot it great, except for two games. But hey, we’re going to have to shoot the ball in to be a good team. I mean, I think that the ability to space the floor, to open up lanes for drives for Isaiah and others, and then Al (Horford)’s rolls I think is really important. So you’re not going to make nineteen every night, but we took a lot of good ones and we got good ones for each other.”
There’s only team with this kind of attack to win an NBA championship. The 2015 Golden State Warriors with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green connected on 240 three-pointers through 21 playoff games on their way to the title. Through seven playoff games, the Celtics have 95. Multiply that by three and the Celtics would shatter the Warriors figure with 285 threes.
Celtics fans watching with pure ecstasy Sunday their team dismantle the Wizards after the 0-16 start now know precisely what those Golden State Warriors fans felt like the last two seasons. So many experts said there was no way any team could keep this up in the playoffs. There’s no way in the NBA playoffs any team could take 39 threes and make nearly half of them.
In the 29 minutes following the 16-0 hole to start the game, Boston scored an astounding 91 points. Think about that. 91 points in a playoff game over two and a half quarters.
“They were a little more aggressive than we were,” Bradley Beal said. “Our defense slipped a little, we lacked some IQ and focus. We gave up a lot of threes, I think 19. We gotta do a better job at guarding the three and being on the same page defensively.”
“Yeah, I mean, I thought we were in trouble, obviously, the way that that game started,” Stevens added. “But it’s a long game and you know you’re only a run away from being right back in it. You know, I just think that you just stay the course. We were sloppy right out of the gate for the first five minutes. We can’t expect to play that way and be good for the rest of the series. But played well the rest of the time.”
In some ways this Celtics team might be even tougher than the Golden State team that won it all two years against Cleveland.
Just what happened to Isaiah Thomas alone on the eve of the playoffs has taken an emotional toll on him and his teammates. Then to be so outplayed on their home court by an inferior Bulls team and drop the first two games of the playoffs.
The Celtics heard the doubters loud and clear, as Brad Stevens more than clear after the Game 6 in Chicago. Now, emboldened by their 3-point assault, they actually think they have a chance to overcome anything. The Wizards, the Raptors, the Cavaliers. It doesn’t matter. The Spurs or the Warriors, if they get that far, won’t scare the Celtics either.
Isaiah Thomas was asked, after the first win of the series, if the team ever doubted its potential.
“It has at some points this season, but we always continue to just keep going,” Thomas said. “We know its not always going to be peaches and cream all the time. We’ve always played with our backs against the wall. Today we definitely didn’t want to be down 16-0 but it happens and we just locked in even more. We settled down, we executed on offense and we got stops and that’s how we got back into the game.”
Full article @ Could Isaiah Thomas and Celtics copy Steph Curry, Warriors and win an NBA championship? It’s looking more and more possible
Source: GreenStreet Blog