Well, that didn’t take long.
The Celtics were embarrassed in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals with Isaiah Thomas but won Game 3 without him, prompting some to speculate that Boston is better without the 5-9 point guard.
Chris Mannix has some advice for those people.
“I’d tell them to put the bottle of cheap gin down,” The Vertical’s NBA writer said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “This happens all the time. There was a couple of games during the season where Boston played decent with Isaiah out of the lineup, and then they lost a few in a row and got blown out. What’s going to happen (in Game 4) if they get beat by 30 again and can’t find a way to score? Isaiah is an elite offensive scorer. He’s All-NBA for a reason. You don’t trade a guy like that.”
Boston beat Cleveland, 111-108, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, this after losing Games 1 and 2 by a combined 57 points. Thomas, who averaged 28.9 points this season, scored two points on 0-of-6 shooting in Game 2, which Boston lost by 44. Marcus Smart started Game 3 in his stead and had team-highs in points (27) and assists (seven).
So, the Celtics should trade Thomas, draft Markelle Fultz, and hand the team over to him, right?
Wrong. They should keep Thomas, draft Fultz, and see what happens.
“People need to get off the whole position thing,” Mannix said. “Isaiah is a point, Fultz is a point – how can they share minutes in that lineup? Well, they can.”
Look at Portland. The Trail Blazers drafted Damian Lillard sixth overall in 2012 and drafted C.J. McCollum tenth overall in 2013. They averaged 27.8 and 22.5 points, respectively, this past season.
“They play those two guys together and they’re just fine,” Mannix said. “That’s one of the best backcourts in the NBA. I think you draft Fultz, you play Isaiah, and then you see what you have at some point during the season.”
The Celtics pay the Cavs in Game 4 on Tuesday. Tip-off is at 8:30 p.m. ET.