After being forced out of Game 5 with a sprained ankle, Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas looks like a go for Game 6 against the Atlanta Hawks.
President of Basketball Operations for the Celtics Danny Ainge told reporters, via Jared Weiss of CLNS Radio, that it’s “very likely” that Thomas will play Thursday when the Celtics host the Hawks.
Unfortunately, he also said guard Avery Bradley, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, is “very unlikely” to come back for the elimination game.
The Celtics were humbled on Tuesday night, losing 110-83 in Atlanta to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead in the series.
Needless to say, Boston desperately needs Thomas to come back into the lineup in order to have a fighting chance to extend the series to seven games and potentially move to the second round of the playoffs.
Even if Thomas does come back, the Celtics will have their hands full staying alive based on how things went before he was injured in Game 5.
After the dynamic point guard dropped 70 points in Games 3 and 4, Atlanta employed double- and triple-teams on Thomas to keep him from having his way in the open floor.
Was it a sign of respect towards Thomas? That’s not how he sees it.
“They put two or three guys on me every time I touched the ball,” Thomas said, via Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com. “Their game plan was to let the other guys beat us. It should be a sign of disrespect to my teammates for [the Hawks] to put two on the ball every time I have it. Other guys have to step up and make plays, that’s what it comes down to.”
The strategy worked, too, because his teammates failed to capitalize on their open opportunities.
Thomas sees the strategy ultimately failing, however, if it is used again on Thursday: “My guys will be ready. We’ll be ready.”
Hopefully Thomas’ ankle will be ready, because the team’s playoff hopes rest on his capable shoulders.