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.
Thomas was, statistically, on this level last year. But he’s elevated his game in the first month of the 2016-17 season, to the point where—depending on what properties you value in a point guard—he may be the best of the bunch.
“The game is slowing down for me,” Thomas said. “I worked so hard this summer just to continue to get better and not be satisfied. And I’m just reading the game of basketball. I’m reading it at a different level.”
He’s shining as one of the five best offensive players in the entire Eastern Conference, and his brilliant play continued Monday night with 29 points to help the Celtics escape Minnesota via a thrilling 99-93 victory. Thomas couldn’t be stopped, finishing with four secondary assists (as many as the entire Timberwolves team) and a flurry of free throws that gave Boston the offensive firepower it badly needed.
Bleacher Report – Don’t Call Isaiah Thomas Anything Other Than ‘Superstar’
In my very unscientific observations of NBA Twitter, fans of other teams (as well as some media) who don’t watch every single Celtics game tend to dismiss Isaiah Thomas as a small man who can’t measure up (pun intended) to the real stars of the league. Contrast that with those of us who do watch every game: we see how his talent and determination are lifting him to new heights. A bad game for IT now is when he scores only 19 points.
But that’s just the eye test. The article above offers a slew of stats that undeniably prove IT is not just an all-star, but legitimately one of the NBA’s best players. And now others are noticing, too:
Then there’s this fact tweeted out after the Minnesota game:
If you asked a group of NBA fans to name the league’s top fourth-quarter scorers, they’d probably choose established, no-doubt all-stars like LeBron or Curry or Westbrook or Anthony Davis. They probably would not guess Isaiah Thomas. But if IT keeps going like he is, the fans will have no choice but to recognize his true stature.
On Page 2: #NetsPick opportunity tonight
After Boston lost twice to the Nets last season, including one November visit to Brooklyn, some believe the four biggest games on the Celtics’ schedule are the ones against the Nets.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index currently projects the Nets to win 24.2 games, the second-lowest total in the league, behind only the Philadelphia 76ers (21.8 wins). By BPI projections, the Nets’ pick has a 17.8 percent chance of being No. 1, a 50 percent chance of being top three, an 88.7 percent chance of being top five and a 99.6 percent chance of being top 10.
For all the consternation about Brooklyn’s better-than-expected start, BPI does not predict the Nets to win another game until Jan. 8, when they host the 76ers. That means the Nets are BPI underdogs in their next 22 games. After the 76ers game, BPI doesn’t favor the Nets again for another 35 games, in a March 23 matchup against the Phoenix Suns.
Maybe the Nets actually will be as bad as we hoped. If these BPI predictions come true, Brooklyn won’t win again until more than six weeks from now. No doubt, a Celtics victory tonight will help Boston fans enjoy Thursday’s turkey dinner more than ever.
On Page 3: Plays of the week
And, finally: Bill Walton checks in from his own universe
There might be someone on this planet who is happier and goofier than this former Celtic – but I doubt it.
The Rest of the Links:
Al Horford is really, really good section:
All the other news section:
(Photo credit: Getty Images)