Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas: ‘We can’t be experimenting in Game 63’

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
4 Comments

The Celtics outscored the Clippers by 17 points when using lineups that played before last night.

But Boston also spent about 30% of the game with five-man units that had never taken the court — and got outscored by 31 in that time.

The result: A 14-point loss and a displeased Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:

“We should have won this game,” Thomas said following the loss. “We should have won last night [at Phoenix]. We can’t be experimenting in Game 63.”

When asked to elaborate, Thomas said, “You can watch film and you know what it is.”

Thomas wouldn’t say whether his “experimenting” comment was in regards to the lineups used on Monday, but it’s hard to imagine he was referring to anything else.

Two questions for Thomas:

When should Celtics coach Brad Stevens experiment?

Second-place Boston is three games behind the Cavaliers, 1.5 games ahead of the Wizards and 2.5 games ahead of the Raptors. They must fend off Washington and Toronto, but the Celtics are looking relatively locked into second place.

At this point, there’s value in trying new things.

Boston struggled with a small lineup last night, but perhaps that unit has untapped potential that could help in the playoffs. The Celtics got blitzed with little-used Jordan Mickey and James Young on the court, but the Spurs get lavished with praise for giving their young players minutes to develop.

It’s a long regular season. This strikes me as the right time to experiment.

What else was Stevens supposed to do?

Al Horford and Jonas Jerebko were both out against L.A. That almost necessitated strange lineups.

I understand Thomas’ frustration. He’s a competitor, and his team just lost a game he wanted to win. Maybe Boston could have done more to win it, but there was nothing particularly important about this one, which was actually game 64.

In the big picture, Thomas’ complaints seem misguided.