Wait a second, what’s that sound? Is that a little buzz we hear surrounding the Celtics?
It is! Believe it or not, the Celtics are worth checking out again, and it’s hard not to notice a better product on the floor since the two trade deadline deals they pulled off.
Boston improved its roster in the short-term and long-term by trading for former Phoenix Suns guard Isaiah Thomas and former Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko. Now, for the first time in two seasons, winning seems to be first and foremost for a Celtics team just a game out of a playoff spot.
Since the two players have suited up, the Celtics are 3-2, and very well could be 5-0 after two close losses, the most recent being Sunday’s 106-101 loss against NBA powerhouse, Golden State.
It’s clear that the effort is there, so much so that Thomas said he hasn’t been on a team that’s played this hard since college.
“Everybody who gets in the game is putting their heart on the line,” Thomas said after Sunday’s game. “That’s what it takes to win games in this league. We’re doing a great job of that.”
Thomas, who is averaging 21.8 points per game through the first five games, has wasted no time in becoming a fan favorite while former Celtics guard Rajon Rondo is busy ignoring and then mouthing off to his head coach in Dallas, Rick Carlisle, earning himself a one-game suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
Thomas’ aggressiveness makes him the team’s best offensive weapon and scorer in the biggest situations – something he has already said he embraces. And on Tuesday (7 p.m., CSNNE), he’ll be expected to continue his hot stretch against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road.
It will most likely be an angry Cavs team, after they were handed two straight losses, including a hotly contested road game in Houston on Sunday that ended with James missing two crucial free throws at the end of overtime.
Guard Kyrie Irving missed both games with a shoulder injury, but is expected to make his return against the Celtics, where Thomas will be waiting.
On the year, Irving is averaging 21.7 points, 5.2 assists, and 3.3 rebounds and along with Kevin Love has figured out how to play with James. After a six-game losing streak that ended on Jan. 15, the Cavs have gone 18-4 and are now just one game out of second place in the Eastern Conference.
They’ve also recently added an old friend to the team: Kendrick Perkins. Traded to the Jazz at the deadline, Perkins was bought out and chose to join the Cavs for what he hopes will be a title run.
But the Celtics are making their own little playoff push, and would love nothing more than another shot at the “King’s” Cavs.