Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“It was a blessing in disguise,” Thomas said of the trade. “It definitely turned my career around. It hurt at first because I’ve never been traded, never been in that situation, but it’s a better situation for myself here. I’m loved here and people like what I do, and I appreciate that.”
“It was weird for the players and the coaching staff to say, ‘Just be you. Go out there and make stuff happen,'” Thomas recalled Friday. “And it’s been like that since Day 1 and they’ve put me in position to be successful and it’s been a good ride. Hopefully I can be here for a while.”
It feels like we’ve come a long way since we were worried about whether Isaiah Thomas was a good fit. While he wasn’t the team’s leading scorer last night–in no small part because the team was playing so well that he only had to play in odd-numbered quarters–his pace over the prior three games was, to all intents and purposes, positively Paul Pierce-ian.
Page 2: Marcus Smart is becoming more versatile.
The second-year guard finished with 10 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds with his assist and rebound totals each being a career high.
Smart became the first Celtic reserve with a triple-double since Art “Hambone” Williams who had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists on January 6, 1971.
Of the three categories, the rebounding total was the most elusive until he grabbed No. 10 in the fourth quarter which to a large degree was set up by his teammates well aware he was closing in on the milestone.
“Before I got in the huddle, the team was just telling me, ‘you know one more (rebound),’ and they were telling everyone, ‘just box out’ and allow me to get the rebound,” Smart said. “That’s when I knew I needed one more to get that.”
Marcus Smart logged his first and hopefully not last triple-double against Phoenix. He may never become a volume scorer, but if he’s consistently able to defend the other team’s best player, regardless of size, he might just have a future in this here professional basketball league.
Page 3: Amir Johnson’s fitting in
Stevens said he watched video of Isaiah Thomas during his first game as a member of the Celtics — coincidentally against the Suns, his former team — and noticed how tentative he looked compared with now.
“Even though he was doing some dynamic things that were catching all of our attention, it took him a while to be comfortable on both ends of the floor,” Stevens said. “That’s part of Amir’s transition here. But he’s doing great. He’s really had a good last couple of weeks.”
Amir Johnson’s progress over the past couple weeks has been about the only bright spot in what has been a truly ugly stretch of Celtics basketball–I mean, sure Isaiah Thomas has scored a lot, but that’s because seemingly everyone else except Amir and Crowder forgot how to put the ball through the hoop. At any rate, Gary Washburn write a bit about how Amir’s adjusted to playing with the Celtics and how he’s stayed in the league.
Finally: Stevens to speak at Andrew Smith’s funeral
Celtics coach Brad Stevens will give a eulogy at the funeral of former Butler center Andrew Smith on Sunday.
Smith, 25, who played for Stevens at Butler from 2009-13, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.
Stevens said that Smith’s wife, Samantha, called him Thursday and asked him to give a brief speech at the service.
“Obviously, it’s gonna be hard,” Stevens said Friday night. “But I had a good relationship with Andrew and Sam. It’s one of those things where I’ll do my best to represent him well.”
When Stevens asked out of the Chicago game last week to visit a former player in the hospital, most of us didn’t realize at the time that he was going there to say good bye.
Here’s Stevens’ introducing Andrew Smith on Senior Night in 2013
The rest of the links
Boston Globe: Celtics appear to have found answer to some shortcomings