Isaiah Thomas (53 points) can’t be stopped, neither can Celtics as they rescue Game 2 from weary Wizards

Isaiah Thomas (53 points) can’t be stopped, neither can Celtics as they rescue Game 2 from weary Wizards

May 2, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts during the first quarter in game two of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas reacts during the first quarter in Game 2 of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper-USA Today Sports)

The Celtics and Wizards series is getting down and dirty. It’s also turning into a classic after just two games. 

Isaiah Thomas, with his new smile, set a new personal playoff standard with 53 points, offsetting 40 from John Wall and the Celtics beat the Wizards, 129-119, in overtime in Game 2 Tuesday night at TD Garden. 

The brilliant performance from Thomas was the greatest of his career and ranks among the greatest in the storied playoff history of the Celtics. It also came on what would have been the 23rd birthday of his late sister, Chyna, who died in a one-car accident on April 15. 

“Today is my sister’s birthday. She would have been 23 today,” Thomas said after the game. “So, the least I could is play for her. 

“There’s no way I couldn’t play on her birthday.” 

In addition to the personal tragedy, Thomas spent six hours in surgery Monday fixing his front teeth and four more at the hospital on Tuesday, treating swelling, just hours before Game 2. 

There’s no other way to say it, the Celtics with Thomas look unstoppable and a team of destiny. 

The Celtics, who have won six straight games since their 0-2 hole against the Bulls, take a 2-0 series lead to Washington for Game 3 Thursday. Game 4 is Sunday, also in Washington. 

Bound and determined to not let another opportunity slip through their hands, the Wizards got physical and chippy at times to make their point. 

It was obvious early on that the Wizards had every intention of getting their best player involved much earlier than was the case in Game 1. There was no such wait in Game 2 as the Wizards, down a game, wanted to make sure they gave themselves the chance to come out of Boston with a split, a split they thought they were getting after the first six minutes Sunday afternoon. 

In the series-opener, the Wizards relied on the physical dominance of Marcin Gortat to race out to leads of 16-0 and 22-5. John Wall didn’t get going until the second half, finishing with 20 points and 14 assists in the 123-111 Boston win. In the first six minutes Tuesday, Wall had 11 points and four assists. He finished the quarter with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. 

But with three minutes left in the quarter, Wall went up over Kelly Olynyk and fell over him, landing hard on the court. As he was bracing his fall, his left hand and wrist was caught under his body. He came up grimacing and holding the wrist but remained in the game, taking the next two possessions on drives to the basket.

Isaiah Thomas was nearly Wall’s equal early. The Celtics point guard was 6-of-10 in the first quarter with 15 points. 

“I don’t know what else there is to say,” Brad Stevens said. “I thought Isaiah was really going to have to gut this one out and he goes out and scores 50.” 

(Click here for the full box score).

The Celtics committed seven turnovers in the first eight minutes as the Wizards converted that into eight points. Boston finished the quarter with nine turnovers that led to 10 Washington points. Unlike Sunday, when the Celtics closed the first quarter with momentum that started their rally, it was Washington that ended the first on a 13-8 run to take a 42-39 lead. 

There was another fascinating showdown besides Wall and Thomas. Markieff Morris came back from a sprained left ankle in Game 1 and started Game 2. Intent on showing his physical presence early, and perhaps retaliation for Al Horford’s foul that led to his injury, he threw Horford into the first row of seats under the basket in front of the Wizards bench just three minutes into the game. No foul was called. Moments later, as the teams returned from the timeout, Morris and Horford had words, with each staring the other down. 

It was Horford who got up on Morris in Game 1 to defend the forward as he took a mid-range 15-foot fadeaway. Morris came down awkwardly on Horford’s feet, badly turning his left ankle. He left Game 1 and did not return. Apparently, he was still holding a grudge.

The game settled down a bit in the second quarter, as the Celtics made a predictable run against the Wizards as the crowd was reaching ear-splitting decibels. 

The second quarter featured more rough and tumble play, leading to bumps and bruises. Otto Porter was fouled by Jae Crowder and fell to the court awkwardly, landing on his right elbow. He shook it off and stayed in the game to hit a pair of free throws. 

Then, with just under a minute left, Avery Bradley drove to the basket for an offensive rebound and put-back layup. As he got position under the basket, his right hip collided with Otto Porter under the basket. As he made his way up the court, he was holding the hip. He came out and headed to the locker room early to get ice and treatment. He came out to start the third quarter but left midway through the period as it tightened up again. 

Midway through the quarter, tempers flared as Isaiah Thomas was driving with the ball between a screen and fell to the floor, banging his mouth, with his newly-repaired teeth on the floor. Minutes later, Otto Porter took a shot to the face from Thomas and Porter began bleeding profusely from the nose. He would return later with a cotton ball in his nose to stop the bleeding. At that point, Thomas began yelling at the Washington bench, inciting an emotional response from Morris. 

With 9:02 left in the fourth quarter, Thomas took a feed from Horford and drained a corner three, drawing the Celtics within 2, 95-93, sending the TD Garden into pandemonium. 

With 8:28 left, Thomas hit another three, bringing the Celtics within one, 97-96. The Celtics kept charging, as Avery Bradley followed a missed three with a make with 7:08 left to give Boston its biggest lead to that point, 102-99. Thomas hit a layup with 5:23 left to put the Celtics up, 104-101. 

The Wizards would score the next nine points, featuring a pair of midrange jumpers from Morris and a block by Morris on Crowder. 

Down 110-104, Thomas hit a straightaway three to give him 40 points and bring the Celtics within three. Following a defensive stop, Terry Rozier drained a three with 1:38 left to tie the game again, 110-110. After a John Wall free throw gave Washington a one-point lead, Thomas drained a 20-footer over Morris for a 112-111 lead. Thomas stared down Morris all the back up the court. 

But it was Otto Porter who nailed a corner three on a good look from Gortat that put Washington up, 114-112 with 32.6 seconds remaining. 

Thomas was fouled by Gortat and responded with a pair of free throws with 14.4 seconds left to tie the game again. The Wizards had a chance to win it on the final possession of regulation but John Wall missed the jumper with three seconds left and Bradley Beal missed a put-back floater in the lane as time expired.

The Celtics looked the fresher of the two teams in overtime. Marcin Gortat reached over Marcus Smart, who hauled down an offensive rebound 30 seconds into overtime

Avery Bradley stripped the ball from an exhausted Wall and went in for the dunk with 2:22 left in overtime as the Celtics went up, 120-117. Thomas went in for a layup with 1:40 to put Boston up five, 122-117 and give him 48 points. After Oubre drew Kelly Oubre hit a field goal, Thomas came down, hit a shot with 1:07 left to give him 50 points. He was also fouled on the shot, fouling out Morris. Thomas hit the shot to give him 51 points and the Celtics a 125-119 lead. 

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Source: GreenStreet Blog

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