BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics had their best overall game on Wednesday night, putting up 117 points against an Orlando defense that has been playing very well as of late.
And they did so without their leading scorer in Isaiah Thomas. They’ll look to emulate that performance Friday night when they host the Toronto Raptors in a key divisional matchup at the TD Garden.
Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Friday morning to look ahead to Boston’s matchup with the Raptors, calling it “the first really meaningful game of the Celtics season.”
Boston trails Toronto by two games in the Atlantic Division, as well as the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are obviously a much different offense without Isaiah on the floor, but his absence gives opponents a much different look defensively to start games with Marcus Smart staring in his place, alongside strong defenders in Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.
“It’s an interesting experiment for the Celtics against Toronto. They have their three best defenders on the floor to start the game, and that sets a very different tone,” said Gorman.
As for how the offense functions without Isaiah, Gorman admits there’s much more ball movement, but that doesn’t mean they should go ahead and trade their leader on the floor.
“He’s not a ball hog, but what he does best requires him to have the ball,” Gorman said of Thomas, adding that the C’s do have other players becoming go to guys on offense. “Al Horford is starting to emerge as a guy you can go to, and Avery Bradley is a guy you can go to too. Certainly not the same degree of success with Isaiah, but they’re not bereft of guys to go to.
“What I’m getting at is they’re different without Isaiah. The ball moves more and they’re much tougher defensively. They’re a different team,” continued Gorman. “They’re not as good offensively, but somehow they still figured out a way to come up with 117 points the other night. That was against a team that has been playing pretty well.”
Gorman also touched on Terry Rozier’s play off the bench, and Marcus Smart’s flopping. Tune in to Friday night’s Celtics game on 98.5 The Sports Hub, with pregame coverage underway at 7pm!