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.
Did Isaiah Thomas get snubbed for the Eastern Conference Player of the Month award?
He surely believes so. Though he wasn’t available for an interview before Tuesday night’s game against the Utah Jazz, the Boston Celtics guard said earlier this week he deserved the honor. Instead, the NBA announced Tuesday that the award went to John Wall after he averaged 24.5 points, 10.7 assists and 2.67 steals per game for the Washington Wizards. Thomas averaged 30.3 points and 5.9 assists, but missed four of Boston’s 16 games.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens heard of the results during his pregame press conference Tuesday.
“I didn’t see. I have no idea,” Stevens said. “I’m sure John had a great month. I think Isaiah will do what he normally does with results like that and put them on his shoulder.”
Turns out Brad was right: the chip on IT’s shoulder is bigger than ever. And last night The Little Guy used that motivation to deliver a message to everyone who didn’t vote for him as Player of the Month.
There’s no doubt that Thomas put together a spectacular December. Besides the stats listed above, the Celtics were 9-3 in the dozen games IT played. Both Wall and Thomas had a 52-point game during the month, but IT’s was in a win, while the Wizards lost on Wall’s big night. However, the word was that Wall’s high assist total gave him the edge in the POTM selection. So IT posting a career high in assists last night was a big middle finger to that premise.
We also can’t ignore the irony that IT’s performance versus Utah was actually more productive than his destruction of Miami. Not eye-popping like 50-plus is, but statistically better. Do the math: Against the Heat, Isaiah remarkably had zero assists, so he was responsible for only the 52 points. Last night, his 29 points plus 15 assists added up to at least 59 Celtics points – and more, really, because some of the dimes came on made threes.
The Player of the Month electors may not have honored Isaiah, but in the post-game his latest victims did:
Related: Herald – Bulpett: Isaiah Thomas shows he’s more than scoring machine with career-high 15 assists in Celtics win | Isaiah Thomas loses Player of the Month award to John Wall | MassLive – Isaiah Thomas has taken a leap and so has the Boston Celtics offense | Isaiah Thomas has 29 points, career-high 15 assists as Boston Celtics top Utah Jazz, 115-104 | Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas praises John Wall, but does not understand what the Player of the Month award is about | CSNNE – Thomas’ 29 Points, Career-High 15 Assists Lead Celtics To 115-104 Win Over Jazz | Stars, Studs And Duds: Thomas ‘Finding People Everywhere’ With 15 Assists | Globe – With eyes in the back of his head, Isaiah Thomas has big hand in Celtics victory
On Page 2: Crowder is heated about the crowd
Recognizing that Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is a potential free agent this offseason — and given his Butler University connections to Brad Stevens — Boston Celtics fans greeted Hayward with some audible cheers during lineup introductions before Tuesday’s game at TD Garden.
That didn’t sit well with Celtics forward Jae Crowder, who just so happens to play the same position as Hayward.
Crowder responded with maybe his best game of the season, scoring 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting while making all but one of the six 3-pointers he put up over 35 minutes of floor time as part of Boston’s 115-104 victory. After the game, Crowder sounded off, both in the locker room and on social media, about his perceived slight from the fans.
“I heard the cheering before the game. I didn’t like that at all,” said Crowder. “I think that was a sign of disrespect to me from the fans. That sparked a little fire in me.”
Crowder seemed a lot more ruffled after Tuesday’s game and, after voicing his displeasure on Twitter, he retweeted a suggestion from a follower that he could return to the Dallas Mavericks, who traded him to Boston in December 2013. When another follower suggested that Crowder could “love it or leave it” in Boston, Crowder responded in his typical all-caps by writing, “I HAVE NO PROBLEM LEAVING IT!”
Watch Jae Crowder play and it doesn’t take long to notice his fire. His game is as intense as his hair. It’s no surprise then that he reacted strongly when he felt some fans at last night’s game were showing love to his opponent.
The on-court response was perfect, as Jae rained down threes to help the Celtics take control in the second quarter and not look back. It was his best game of the season, but of course more attention is being placed on the post-game quotes and tweets (some of which he has deleted).
I have no problem with Jae feeling disrespected. If you thought someone might take over your job, you wouldn’t put out the welcome mat. Where he went too far was saying he would be glad to leave Boston. It was probably just a heat-of-the-moment response, but Celtics Twitter immediately lit up with predictable “if you don’t want us, we don’t want you” backlash. Even a few talk radio personalities tweeted back to challenge Jae’s statement (it’s never too soon to stir the pot – and the talk shows will be overreacting today for sure).
This is what happens when athletes skip the clichés and instead speak from the heart. Crowder is fiery on the court because that’s who he is as a person. I don’t want him to change in either side.
Related: CSNNE – Crowder On Fans Cheering Hayward ‘Sign Of Disrespect To Me’ (video) | Crowder’s Frustration Carries Over To Twitter After Celtics Fans Cheer For Hayward | Blakely: Crowder Needs To Turn ‘Disrespect’ Into Motivation | NESN – Jae Crowder Tweets ‘I Have No Problem Leaving (Boston)’ In Angry Twitter Rant | Jae Crowder: Celtics Fans Cheering Gordon Hayward ‘A Sign Of Disrespect’ | Globe – Jae Crowder ‘disrespected’ by Celtics fans | Herald – Celtics Notebook: Jae Crowder goes off on home fans | Boston.com – Jae Crowder felt disrespected by Gordon Hayward cheers from Garden crowd
On Page 3: Get to know Al Horford
Here’s another Celtic sharing his thoughts. With less controversy.
And, finally: Plays of the Week
The Rest of the Links:
MassLive – Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford & more: 10 things to like/dislike from Boston Celtics vs. Utah Jazz | Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics rookie, takes out frustrations on Raul Neto, shines in win over Utah Jazz | NBA Mock Draft 2017: Boston Celtics take Lonzo Ball in latest Chad Ford list
SB Nation – Why the NBA needs referee reviews